Thursday, May 31, 2007

Day of Wrath (1943, Carl Th. Dreyer)

"Probably the least of the Dreyers I've seen," I said to Chris right after it was over. But then it began to really seep into my brain on the drive home- the strange sensuality of the dialogue between Anne and Martin, the elegant spareness of the storytelling, the sheer perfection of the ending- and I changed my tune. As with a Hattori Hanzo sword, you don't compare a Dreyer film to other Dreyer films, but to other films that weren't directed by Dreyer. What makes his work a little hard to parse right away is how stylized the worlds he creates are- while he wants DAY OF WRATH to walk and talk like a naturalistic period piece, in actuality he doesn't aim for realism here anymore than he did with VAMPYR or he later would with ORDET. No less than ORDET, DAY OF WRATH is a parable, albeit a much bleaker one. Rating: ****.

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