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The Quietus | Film | Film Features | Techniques Of Terror: Carl Dreyer's Danish Gothic Dissected
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The A-Z of Carl Theodor Dreyer
Search Within These Results:. The most important books on Dreyer in French and Danish have not been translated into English or vice versa , and this does seem to have held back at least some scholarly interest. This article prioritizes writings in English over writings in other languages, and newer writings over older.
The most important resource for anyone doing research on Dreyer is Carl Th. A few significant articles have been given their own entries in this article, but the site repays exploration. Carl Th. Dreyer: The Man and His Work. Danish Film Institute. Most of the writings on Dreyer are available in both Danish and English. Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page.
Please subscribe or login. Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. In Ordet , a film of minutes, there are shots; in Joan Of Arc there are more than shots in 82 minutes. The pace of these shots creates pressure, a percussive back and forth that beats against Joan.
In Ordet , however, and other films such as Gertrud and Day Of Wrath , the pacing of the film has slowed down with dialogue replacing the role of the camera in creating verbal interactions.
Films of Carl Theodor Dreyer by Bordwell
This does not, however, diminish the camera's role. The camera invades the characters' lives. As Herlof's Marte played by Anna Svierkier is tortured on the rack in Day Of Wrath , the camera pans along the length of her interrogators.
- The Dreyer family.
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Staid old men, dressed in black with stiff white collars, ask her questions, faces blank, ignoring her off-camera screams. The camera creeps towards her, arriving finally as she is loosened from the rack. For Dreyer, this horizontal movement is easily absorbed by the eye. As the man himself wrote: "One can say that one shall try to keep a continuous, flowing, horizontally gliding motion in the film. If one then suddenly introduces vertical lines, one can reach an instantly dramatic effect — as, for instance, in the pictures of the vertical ladder just before it is thrown into the fire in Day of Wrath.
This shift in pacing and direction creates an explosive shock often mimicked in horror films today. In Dreyer's films shock horror is subservient to a growing sense of dread. In a scene similar to the witch's interrogation in Day Of Wrath , Maria Falconetti's titular heroine in Joan Of Arc is taken to be tortured to extract a confession from her.
An accelerating montage occurs which cuts between Joan's face, a huge spiked wheel that spins faster and faster, and the faces of her tormentors.
- The Re-Enchantment of the West, Vol 2: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture and Occulture.
- The 19th Best Director of All-Time: Carl Theodor Dreyer – The Cinema Archives.
- The Book of Black Magic: Including the Rites and Mysteries of Goetic Theurgy, Sorcery and Infernal Necromancy.
Horror builds. We know that Joan is going to be burned at the stake, but please don't let her be tortured. Thankfully, she faints and is taken from torture chamber. Nothing has happened, but everything has been felt. In Gertrud too, the true horror occurs out of sight of the camera.
This time not the horror of torture, but the horror of the void that lies underneath the blank surfaces of the characters. These people are vampiric upon one another: the men all vampiric upon Gertrud's spirit, Gertrud's idealised notion of love vampiric upon them. Upon its release, Gertrud was poorly received by critics but if you give yourself over to its slow pacing and the deadness of the characters, you'll come away from it feeling uncomfortable, intruded upon, soiled.
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What seems like a staid, realist chamber drama, is actually an impressionistic expression of the coldness of the characters' reality. It's a world that we don't want to be part of, but Dreyer ensnares us. Part of what makes Gertrud so successful is the balance between the interior lives of the characters and the world they inhabit.