Movie Information

In Brief: It is sobering to realize that Ordet (1955) — a film about madness, religious intolerance, a stillborn child, death and maybe a miracle — is probably Carl Theodore Dreyer's sunniest film. That says a lot about Dreyer's filmography, and while I do not doubt his greatness or his importance as a filmmaker, he's not someone I care to spend a lot of time with. With Ordet, Dreyer took Kaj Munk's play (previously filmed by another director in 1943) and adapted it to film in a manner that (for good or ill) largely preserved its theatricality. Oh, it's been "opened up," but it largely works on entrances and exits, with long takes and minimal shot breakdown. Plus, it's done in Dreyer's unadorned style where the sets are little more than empty rooms (if a thing isn't functional, it's generally not present). Whether this suits a story about a family where one of them believes himself to be Christ (and a really gloomy Christ at that), while another wants to marry outside their religion, and another awaits the birth of a child — with the patriarch hovering over all — is a matter of taste. I think it mostly works, and it's an effective story about faith. Just remember that it makes Ingmar Bergman look like a barrel of monkeys.
Genre: Drama
Director: Carl Theodore Dreyer
Starring: Henrik Malberg, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Birgitte Federspiel, Cay Kristiansen
Rated: NR

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Ordet Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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