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The Iconclastic Carl Th. Dreyer (1889-1968) Why is Dreyer important? Filmography Entry into film Silent Works –Leaves from Satan’s Book (1919) –The Passion.

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Presentation on theme: "The Iconclastic Carl Th. Dreyer (1889-1968) Why is Dreyer important? Filmography Entry into film Silent Works –Leaves from Satan’s Book (1919) –The Passion."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Iconclastic Carl Th. Dreyer ( ) Why is Dreyer important? Filmography Entry into film Silent Works –Leaves from Satan’s Book (1919) –The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) –Vampyr (1934) Sound Films –Day of Wrath (Vredens dag, 1943) –The Word (1954, Ordet)

2 Why Iconoclastic? Dreyer in Danish and Scandinavian cinema –Transitional figure Danish cinema Svensk filmindustri UFA—Erich Pommer Silent & Sound films –Cinematic contribution Dreyer’s Filmography Dreyer’s Style –Naturalism –Modernism –Humor –Mysticism Dreyer in a lighter moment

3 Dreyer’s Style Naturalism –Full set –Non-professional actors –Exceptions: Once Upon a Time, Vampyr Psychological Realism –Face Use of close up Make up and costuming Mise en scene –Type –Vampyr Humanism as a thematic focus –Suffering –Individuality –Women characters –Mysticism Dreyer directing Faces of Joan’s judges

4 Filmography: 14 Films Silents The President (Præsidenten) (1918) Leaves from Satan’s Book (Blade af satans bog) (1919) The Parson’s Widow (Præsteenken) (1921) Love One Another (Elsker hverandre) (1922) Once Upon a Time (Der var engang) (1922) Mikaël (1924) Master of the House (Du skal ære din hustru) (1925) The Bride of Glomdal (Glomsdalbruden) (1925) The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne D’Arc) (1928) Vampyr (1931) Sound Films Day of Wrath (Vredens Dag) (1943) Two People (Två Människor) (1944) Ordet (The Word) (1954) Gertrud (1964)

5 Entry into film Childhood Early career in journalism at Ekstra bladet and encounters with film works in script department at Nordisk works W. Stæhr in editing department during the winters 1917 Dreyer granted permission to make The President at Nordisk Dreyer at work

6 Leaves from Satan’s Book (1919) Ambitious experiment –Learning through bold project –Most expensive Nordisk film yet Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916) screened at Nordisk –Luigi Maggi’s Satana (1911) –F.W. Murnau Satanas (1920) Four episodes in Satan’s Book –Jesus Christ –Spanish Inquisition –French Revolution –Finnish Civil War “Naturalism” above all Small details figure large events Suffering and martyrdom as a consequence of evil wielding institutional force Siri - Dreyer’s suffering woman Careful selection of mise en scene detail

7 7 Leaves from Satan’s Book Introduction to Finnish Civil War section of Leaves from Satan’s book -- notice combination of intercutting and “deep set”

8 The Parson’s Widow (Præsteenken, 1920) Made for Svensk filmindustri Folk comedy adaptation Hildur Carlberg –Sjöström’s Sons of Ingmar (1919) –Died after filming “Two Films” Criticism –Comedy –Heavy drama“Dreyer’s Fit” (Sandberg) –Maihaugen setting –Costume Set internals –Drawers and cupboards left intact –Ethnographic details of furniture –Ceilings visible –Depth of setting Hildur Carlberg Maihaugen Open Air Museum Lillehammer Deep staging

9 The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d’Arc, 1928) Dreyer’s version of trial of Joan of Arc Script initiated by novel of Alain Delteil Popular topic at the time –Joan canonized 1920 –Other adaptations G.B. Shaw Bertold Brecht Following success of Master of the House, Société Général des Films offered contract to make Delteil script Dreyer researches Joan’s trial, and rewrites script Dreyer enjoys total control

10 Modernist Joan of Arc Fluid cinematic language of 1920s Bending film language to Dreyer’s “truth” of Joan Joan’s Editing –Shots 1,517 shots –174 intertitles –1,333 shots Hollywood shots Eisenstein 2,000 shots –Match on sightlines French impressionist cinema –Abel Gance –Camera movements cutting present interior reality Eisenstein’s montage film –Editing generates effects –Extreme fast pace German Expressionism –Chiaroscuro lighting –Psychological effects Low-angle shots Sightlines akilter

11 Joan of Arc Production Dreyer meticulously prepared script, compressing court months-long proceedings of Joan’s trial –Omissions of witchcraft charges –Omission of martial elements Dreyer’s casting –Warwick, English general, a café- owner –Renée Falconetti Rudolf Maté returns as cinematographer from Mikael –Karl Freund –Moving camera specialist Costumes by Jean Hugo Sets by Hermann Warm, set designer of Murnau’s Caligari Panchromatic film Pink medieval town “Rouen” constructed outside at Biancourt Model of set at Rouen

12 Release and Premiere Censorship by French church in French release Negatives destroyed –German copy in UFA vault 1928 –Reconstructed copy destroyed in 1929 Gaumont copy in 1949 Copy found in Oslo mental hospital closet in 1981 Reissued copy on Criterion

13 Day of Wrath (Vredens dag, 1943) Return to filmmaking after disasters –Reputation as tyrant –Financial failures –Palladium Films Palladium forced audience orientation Historical events in Bergen, Norway 1575 –Hans Wiers Jensen play (1908) –Echoes Dreyer’s thematic concerns Medieval story of faith, superstition, belief, intolerance –War Context –Thematic concern with suffering women Witch-hunt allegory drives Dreyer to Sweden Perfectionism on display –Marte of the film –Production episode Anne Pedersdotter (Lisbet Movin) Anne and Martin (Preben Lerdorff Rye)

14 14 Day of Wrath Dreyer goes to extremes to create an emotionally authenticity in his actors -- extreme method acting

15 The Word (Ordet, 1955) Dreyer’s adaptation of Kaj Munk play (1925) –Pastor and playwright –Wartime martyr Palladium films Intersection of faith, tradition, and social relations in rural Danish setting –Pietist inner mission –N.F.S. Grundtvig Jutland dialect The “everyday” and the “miraculous” –Religious film –Humanist film Mourning Inger Inger & Mikkel

16 16 The Word Actor Preben Lerdorf Rye’s recollections of working with Dreyer, from documentary on Dreyer, My Metier

17 Inger and the Borgen Household Inger (Birgitte Federspiel) as archetypical Dreyer woman –Life-affirming –Emotional center of Borgensgaard Oppressed within strict social circumstances Emotional complexity –Maternal but also sexual –Spiritual yet pragmatic –Driven by deep conviction –Social fulcrum Conflicts of Borg household –Strict Patriarch Morten (Henrik Malberg) –Agnostic husband Mikkel (Emil Hass Christensen) –Mentally ill Johannes (Preben Lerdorff Rye), –Impulsive Anders (Cay Kristiansen) Inger in the Borgensgaard

18 Style in Ordet Slowed editing pace –Silent film aims for visual impact Joan and Vampyr Montage-like tendency –Sound requires slower pace Sound creates impact Longer takes Deep staging Lighting –Low-key lighting –Lighting offsets intensity of characters in Bogensgaard Stage “fit” maintained Morten and Johanness on the low- key lighted set

19 Conclusion Cinematic and Cultural Signifiance: Conclusion Deep commitment to continually changing notion of realism Tyrannical commitment to aesthetic ideals Concern with suffering, oppressed women Dreyer’s humanism Major figure in Scandinavian cinema


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