Carl Theodor DreyerDenmark126 minutes1955B&WDanish
The home of a Danish farming family becomes the site of a spiritual crisis — and a stunning, bona fide miracle — in the penultimate masterpiece of Carl Dreyer.
"A masterpiece. It is of awesome dimensions - a film about Christianity made with an intensity that achieves exaltation" (Sunday Telegraph). Long unavailable in North America and presented here in a beautiful print from Denmark, Ordet is mightily loved by Guy Maddin and served as the source for Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light. Voted one of the greatest films of all time in the Sight & Sound poll of critics and film historians, Dreyer's penultimate film is about a sternly Christian widower whose beliefs conflict with those of his two sons, one an agnostic and the other a fanatical theology student who, after a breakdown, thinks he is Jesus Christ. When the patriarch's gentle daughter-in-law — whose own faith is tolerant, practical and loving — dies in childbirth, the strain in the family precipitates a spiritual crisis. Played out in Vermeer-like interiors, Ordet put great demands on Dreyer's style, given that he wanted to portray the film's climactic miracle with credible realism; as many critics have noted, it is his spare, tactile, and meticulous treatment of the everyday, and his austere use of the long take, that make that miracle so plausible and moving.