Carl Theodor Dreyer [4 Discs] [Criterion Collection] [DVD]

As the director of such classics as The Passion of Joan of Arc and Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer left a lasting impression in the world of cinema that will never be forgotten. Now Dreyer's remarkable work finally gets the attention it deserves as The Criterion Collection releases three of his best-known films in addition to an in-depth documentary on the filmmaker. Each film in this collection is presented in its original aspect ratio and accompanied by Danish Dolby Digital Mono soundtracks with optional English-language subtitles. Bonus materials on Day of Wrath and Ordet include deleted footage from Torben Skjødt Jensen's documentary Carl Th. Dreyer: My Métier and a stills gallery. Extras on Gertrud include deleted footage from Jensen's documentary Carl Th. Dreyer: My Métier, archival footage from the production of Gertrud, and a stills gallery; and bonus materials for Carl Th. Dreyer: My Métier include rare interview footage and archival materials, an extensive biographical essay by Dreyer scholar Edvin Kau, and a 22-page booklet that includes a reprint of Dreyer's essay "Thoughts on My Métier."
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Special Features

  • New digital transfers of all the films, supervised by Gertrud cinematographer Henning Bendtsen
  • Interviews with cast members from Day of Wrath, Ordet, and Gertrud
  • Archival footage of Dreyer during the production of Gertrud
  • Interviews with Dreyer cinematographers Henning Bendtsen and Jørgen Roos
  • 22-page booklet, including a reprint of Dreyer's essay "Thoughts on My Métier"
  • An exclusive essay by Dreyer scholar Edvin Kau
  • Stills galleries accompanying each film
  • Gertrud enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions


Day of Wrath
Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's Day of Wrath (Vredens Dag) is set in 1623 Denmark, where Anne Pedersdotter (Lisbeth Movin), the second wife of a Danish pastor, grows to loathe her husband for his self-asceticism and instead falls in love with the minister's son - with whom she spends an inordinate amount of time. Locals overhear her wishing aloud for her husband's death; when he dies of a stroke not long after, she is accused of witchcraft, a charge taken seriously enough to be punishable by death. Eventually, the poor woman is tortured and traumatized to such a point that she actually believes she is a witch - and she gives in to being burned at the stake. Yet Dreyer then shifts the perspective from internalized - illustrating the woman's paralyzing fear - to externalized, a point of view that enables the director to depict his subject's spiritual purification. Even allowing for the aura of raw terror, Dreyer never loses sight of the eroticism inherent in the concept of witchcraft. Based on a play by Wiers Jensen, Day of Wrath was filmed during the Nazi occupation of Denmark and not released abroad until after the war, and the director reportedly had to flee his native country when he angered the government with the film's political content. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Nine years after the release of his acknowledged masterpiece, Ordet, Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer offered this a story of an individual in search of a measure of personal peace and serenity, which proved to be his last completed film. Gertrud Kanning, like the maid Joan in Dreyer's best-known film, La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, is a woman in isolation. On the eve of her husband's appointment to a cabinet minister post, she announces that she is leaving their loveless marriage. But her younger lover Erland Jansson, a concert pianist, is more interested in keeping their affair illicit than in continuing it in the open. Gertrud's old lover, the poet Gabriel Lidman, offers more than his friendship, but she holds back from turning to him, instead choosing to live out her life in solitude rather than compromise with love again. Adapted from a 1920s play by Hjalmar Soberberg, Gertrud plays out in long takes, with few close-ups and exterior scenes. Though initial critical reaction to the film was largely unfavorable, its reputation has steadily grown, especially considered in the context of Dreyer's long career. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi

With his masterful Ordet (aka The Word, [1955]), legendary Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer examines the conflict between internalized personal faith and organized religion. Dreyer sets the drama in a conservative, super-pious Danish town, where widower Morten Borgen (Henrik Malberg) -- the father of three boys -- cuts against the grain of the community with his constant heretical doubt. One of his sons, Mikkel Borgen (Emil Hass Christensen), is entangled in an interfaith romance with a fundamentalist's daughter, while the second, Anders Borgen (Cay Kristiansen), is an agnostic, and the third, Johannes Borgen (Preben Leerdorff-Rye) -- a devotee of Søren Kirkegaard -- believes that he actually is Jesus Christ -- a conviction ridiculed by almost everyone as pure insanity. Also known as The Word, Ordet was the only film that Dreyer made in the 1950s. The author of the play on which the film was based (and which was previously filmed in 1943) was Kaj Munk, a Danish pastor murdered by the Nazis for daring to announce his fidelity to Christ over Hitler. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Carl Th. Dreyer: Min Metier
Carl Dreyer is still regarded as one of Denmark's greatest filmmakers, though during his life, his films were largely unappreciated. Dreyer was a complex, enigmatic figure and this Danish documentary attempts to chronicle his life using interviews with people who knew and worked with him. The film also makes extensive use of Dreyer's own recorded thoughts as well as archival photographs, letters, scripts and articles. The filmmakers also visit the locations of some of Dreyer's best known films. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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    Thorkild Roose - Absalon Pedersson
  • Lisbeth Movin
    Lisbeth Movin - Anne Pedersdotter
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    Sigrid Neilendam - Merete, Absalon's Mother
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    Albert Hoeberg - The Bishop
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    Olaf Ussing - Laurentius

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