Ordet

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Ordet

Year: 1955 Country: Denmark
Directed by Carl Th. Dreyer
Featuring Henrik Malberg / Emil Hass Christensen / Preben Lerdorff Rye

Introduction

The penultimate film by the Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer is a parable on the power of faith, set in a remote religious community.

“Ordet is a highly accomplished work of cinematic art. Dreyer’s formal and technical mastery, the seeming simplicity of his style, and the depth of the film are overpowering.” Jonas Mekas, Film Culture, 1958

Ordet was the only film Carl Theodor Dreyer directed during the two decades between Two People (1945) and his final film, Gertrud (1964). With Gertrud, it represents the apotheosis of his controlled visual style, consisting of long, uninterrupted takes, with one shot often sufficing for an entire sequence. The 124-minute running time contains only 114 shots.

The film focuses on a devout parson and his three sons, the eldest of whom, Mikkel (Emil Hass Christensen), has rejected God altogether, while his sibling Johannes (Preben Lerdorff Rye) has had a breakdown and thinks himself to be Jesus.

Based on a 1932 play by Kaj Munk, the material is transformed by Dreyer into uniquely slow, hypnotic cinema that examines the nature of believing. The ending ranks among the medium’s most beautiful and mysterious.

Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light (2007) borrows the audacious climax of Ordet for its own story of an austere religious community.