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BFI & Carl Dreyer this Spring

BFI Video have announced their plans to release four films from Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer on DVD this spring. Ordet (1955) and Master of the House (1925) are released on 13 March 2006, followed by Day of Wrath (1943) and Gertrud (1964) on 10 April 2006.

Details on the March releases follow…

Carl Theodor Dreyer made only 14 full-length feature films in a career spanning almost 50 years, but they are among the most intensely wrought works in the history of the cinema. Dreyer’s films have always been much admired by critics, theorists and filmmakers for the way in which they generate a luminous beauty with artfully constructed sets, deep respect for period detail and a masterly ability to conjure up an empathy for physical and emotional suffering.

Ordet (The Word), one of Dreyer’s most liked and admired films, is one of the most beautifully photographed films ever made. It contains just 114 shots, averaging 65 seconds each (its spellbinding simplicity enabled it to be edited in just five days.)

Based on a 1932 play by Danish playwright and Lutheran country priest Kaj Munk (1898-1944), Ordet is a tale of miraculous resurrection brought about by human love. It is an extraordinary expression of spiritual optimism that is neither sentimental nor pious.

Religious intolerance and family tensions within a Danish farming family lie at the heart of the film, which explores the clash between orthodox religions and true faith. Dreyer achieves its powerful effects in deceptively simple ways, and has produced, in its closing moments, one of the most extraordinary scenes in all cinema.

As well as directing feature films, Dreyer was involved in 13 state-commissioned documentaries and short films up to 1956, on subjects ranging from art and architecture to road-safety. Two of his rare short films are included on this DVD.

Extras:

  • Ordet Og Lyset (Helga Theilgaard, 2001, 33 mins) - a documentary about cinematographer Henning Bendtsen and the making of Ordet
  • Thorvaldsen (Dreyer, 1949, 10 mins)
  • Storstrom Bridge (Dreyer, 1950, 7 mins)
  • Fully illustrated booklet including essays by Dreyer scholar Casper Tybjerg (University of Copenhagen) and Philip Horne (University College London)



In Master of the House, the failure of his small business turns Victor (Johannes Meyer) into a household tyrant, constantly complaining and criticising his long-suffering family and eventually driving out his saintly wife Ida (Astrid Holm) to stay with relatives. His elderly Nanny Mads (Mathilde Nielsen) assumes control and, under her firm tutelage, he comes to fully appreciate the value of his wife.

This is a charming, richly detailed tragi-comedy of domestic manners. By turns funny, intensely emotional and deeply affecting it clearly still enjoys considerable contemporary relevance. Dreyer compressed and clarified the stage play by Svend Rindom on which he based his film, making it a definitively cinematic rather than theatrical work.

Master of the House was particularly successful in France where it was widely admired. It resulted in Dreyer being invited to work there and in the eventual commission of his first large budget film, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928).

As well as directing feature films, Dreyer was involved in 13 state-commissioned documentaries and short films up to 1956, on subjects ranging from art and architecture to road-safety. Two of his rare short films are featured on this DVD; Good Mothers, a documentary about the Mothers’ Aid Institution and They Caught the Ferry, which was financed by the Road Safety Council and contains superb action sequences.

Extras:
  • My Metier (Torben Skjødt Jensen, 1995, 94 mins) - a documentary on Dreyer’s life and work, including rare archival footage, film clips, interviews with key actors and associates, stills, scripts, newspaper clippings, letters and Dreyer’s own words
  • Good Mothers (Dreyer, 1942, 12 mins)
  • They Caught the Ferry (Dreyer, 1948, 11 mins)
  • Fully illustrated booklet including an essay by Dreyer scholar Casper Tybjerg (University of Copenhagen); an extract from a feature on Dreyer by film historian Tom Milne from Sight & Sound; an extract from an essay by James Leahy on They Caught the Ferry and more

Last updated: 19/04/2018 06:18:23

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