Cinema and Media Studies Carl Theodor Dreyer
by
Casper Tybjerg
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0282

Introduction

Carl Theodor Dreyer (b. 3 February 1889–d. 20 March 1968) was a Danish film director; in Danish usage, his middle name is normally abbreviated (Carl Th. Dreyer). Besides Denmark, Dreyer also worked in Sweden, Norway, Germany, and France, but he made only a small number of films in the course of a very long career (fourteen features from 1918 to 1964). Dreyer’s name has remained in the pantheon of great film directors, but several more recent writings about him argue that his critical reputation has declined somewhat. One of the great interests of Dreyer as a filmmaker is the length of his career and the variety of his output; some of his films seem similar to Griffith, some to Eisenstein, some to Antonioni; but this has also made it difficult to find a formula that easily sums him up as a filmmaker. The two strains of film criticism that regarded Dreyer with the greatest veneration were probably postwar humanist criticism, whether Christian or atheist, and high-modernist avant-garde formalism. Despite their very different concerns, Dreyer’s films were central to both of them. However, newer schools of film criticism have not been kind to either, dismissing them as old-fashioned. Moreover, the perception that Dreyer was a godly filmmaker promoting Christian beliefs, while widely questioned by Dreyer scholarship, is probably shared widely enough to make other film scholars who are uncomfortable with overt religiosity hesitant to focus their research on his work. Finally, the literature on Dreyer, while not overwhelmingly extensive, is in several different languages and it is often difficult to find outside major film studies research libraries. 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. It largely excludes writings specifically about La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, since that film has a full, separate Oxford Bibliographies article devoted to it, “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”

Online Resource

The most important resource for anyone doing research on Dreyer is Carl Th. Dreyer: The Man and His Work, the website on Dreyer maintained by the Danish Film Institute. A few significant articles have been given their own entries in this article, but the site repays exploration.

Books

The best one-volume introduction to Dreyer’s life and work is Drum and Drum 2000, which provides a wealth of useful information on the man and his works. It does not, however, attempt to advance a particular interpretation of Dreyer’s film, nor does it engage with the critical literature on his oeuvre. An important precursor is Neergaard 1950; the original edition from 1940 is one of the earliest director monographs anywhere and with its photomontage cover, carefully integrated illustrations, and punchy all-caps captions, it is a remarkable example of modernist information design. Both Neergaard 1950 and Drum and Drum 2000 benefit from their authors having had access to a great deal of information from Dreyer himself. The most ambitious critical studies are Drouzy 1982, Bordwell 1981, and Kau 1989. The former offers a biographical interpretation of Dreyer’s work, while the latter both focus on the style of his films, which they analyze in great detail. An important precursor is Parrain 1967, an unusually early instance of a detailed, systematic, academic analysis of the filmmaking style of a particular director. Parrain links Dreyer’s style with his spiritual concerns, as does Schrader 1972 and Sémolué 2005. Carney 1989 criticizes what the author regards as the excessive preoccupation with style in Bordwell 1981, seeking instead to connect Dreyer’s style with his central thematic preoccupation, which, according to Carney, is profane love rather than anything spiritual. Milne 1971 takes a similar humanistic view but focuses exclusively on thematics.

  • Bordwell, David. The Films of Carl-Theodor Dreyer. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

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    A foundational work and the most useful and original study of Dreyer’s visual aesthetics. Two chapters examine the first eight silent films. Four chapters on La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vredens Dag, Ordet, and Gertrud emphasize the ways Dreyer’s filmmaking departs, sometimes radically, from established and prevalent stylistic and narrational norms. A final annotated filmography manages to cram in an impressive amount of important historical material.

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    • Carney, Raymond. Speaking the Language of Desire: The Films of Carl Dreyer. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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      Carney regards Dreyer’s concerns as psychological or existential rather than religious, de-emphasizing the theological aspect of Ordet, for instance, in favor of a more humanist interpretation. The book consists of two theoretical chapters and three devoted to Vredens Dag, Ordet, and Gertrud. The lengthy analyses remain entirely focused on the films themselves, making no attempt at placing them in a wider film-historical context.

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      • Drouzy, Maurice. Carl Th. Dreyer, né Nilsson. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1982.

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        This flawed, one-sided, but indispensable biography is based on a single animating idea, captured by the title: that the master key to understanding Dreyer’s oeuvre must be found in the loss of and longing for his real mother. The first third of the book is devoted to the circumstances of Dreyer’s birth and infancy; the remaining two-thirds concentrates on interpreting the films in the light of the book’s overall thesis.

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        • Drum, Dale D., and Jean Drum. My Only Great Passion: The Life and Films of Carl Th. Dreyer. Scarecrow Filmmakers 68. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2000.

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          A very solid biography; the single most informative book about Dreyer. It draws on an extensive series of interviews with Dreyer himself, adding many details not found elsewhere (the transcripts of the interviews are now accessible at Carl Th. Dreyer: The Man and His Work [cited under Online Resource]), as well as other primary sources, including newspapers, letters, and interviews with co-workers. The films are discussed in considerable detail but mostly through interviews and other sources.

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          • Kau, Edvin. Dreyers filmkunst. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1989.

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            Kau’s massive volume examines Dreyer’s films one by one with concentrated attention to the visuals of each film, illustrated with hundreds of frame enlargements. Kau is particularly interested in the way Dreyer’s use of space and framing presents and reveals the characters of the films. A pioneering work, idiosyncratic and explicitly near-sighted, the book does not attempt to place its analysis within any larger theoretical or methodological framework.

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            • Milne, Tom. The Cinema of Carl Dreyer. London: A. Zwemmer, 1971.

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              A relatively short study, focusing (as an alternative to the idea that Dreyer was a religious filmmaker) on the theme of profane love, and arguing that Dreyer’s heroines can be seen as metaphorical witch-women because of their uncompromising commitment to it. It describes Gertrud as Dreyer’s crowning achievement, giving the most perfect distillation of Dreyer’s abiding thematic preoccupations, while de-emphasizing La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vredens Dag, and Ordet.

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              • Neergaard, Ebbe. Carl Th. Dreyer: A Film Director’s Work. London: British Film Institute, 1950.

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                A pioneering work, first published in Danish in 1940. Neergaard’s discussions of the films display his critical acumen; among the many illustrations are two series of frame enlargements showing the editing of key sequences. The text is also strengthened by being able to draw extensively on Dreyer’s own recollections, particularly a long “autobiographical note” (see Drouzy 1982 [cited under Writings], Martini 1987 [cited under Anthologies]) he wrote for Neergaard.

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                • Parrain, Philippe. “Dreyer: Cadres et mouvements.” Études cinématographiques (1967): 53–56. Paris: Minard.

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                  Originally a university thesis, the published version comes with a recommendation from Dreyer himself. The discussion of settings and the dynamics of interior and exterior scenes is very well done, as well as the examination of camera movements. Less successful is the attempt to attach the stylistic analysis to an interpretive framework that views Dreyer as a religious filmmaker, contrasting the illusory happiness of earthly existence with spiritual transcendence.

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                  • Schrader, Paul. Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.

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                    In their styles of filmmaking, Dreyer, Ozu, and Bresson hold out the possibility of truly spiritual filmmaking, Schrader argues. He dismisses conventionally religious films and argues for a fundamental aesthetic distinction between “abundant” and “sparse” artistic means. Only the latter—abstract, stylized, austere—can elevate the soul. Schrader’s description fits Bresson well, but less so Ozu and Dreyer. Morefield 2008 and Tybjerg 2008 (both cited under Article-Length General Studies) present critiques.

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                    • Sémolué, Jean. Carl Th. Dreyer: Le mystère du vrai. Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma, 2005.

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                      This respectful, elegantly written book is largely an analysis of Dreyer’s films as a coherent oeuvre, with the emphasis on the Danish sound features. As the title suggests, Dreyer’s primary preoccupation is seen to be the pursuit of the true, getting at a secret inner reality, the mysteries of life and death and their human meaning. A charming section describes Sémoulé’s meetings with Dreyer in the 1960s.

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                      Screenplays

                      The publication of the screenplays for Dreyer’s major films in the 1960s and 1970s testify to the high regard his work was held in at the time. Before the advent of video, published screenplays were a frequently used tool for critical studies of the films. The screenplays for La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vampyr, Vredens Dag, and Ordet were first published in Danish in 1964 as Fire film (Copenhagen: Gyldendal). This edition is the basis of most translations into foreign languages (including Dreyer 1970 and Dreyer 1967), but this means that the screenplays for La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and Vampyr, originally written in French, are translated from a Danish translation instead. Furthermore, these are not the complete texts of the actual screenplays. In consultation with Dreyer, the texts of the screenplays were cut to reflect the finished films more closely, though they are not transcriptions either. Dreyer 1983 provides complete texts in French, and Dreyer and Jul 2008 provides an amended English translation of the screenplay of Vampyr. Dreyer’s unrealized projects exist only as screenplays, of course. Dreyer wrote the screenplay for his film on Jesus in 1949–1950 and struggled unsuccessfully to get it made for the last two decades of his life; the screenplay, written in English, is published in Cornfield 1972. In the years just before his death, Dreyer worked on a screenplay based on Medea by Euripedes, which was published in Jensen 1988 (cited under Anthologies).

                      • Cornfield, Robert, ed. Jesus: A Great Filmmaker’s Final Masterwork. New York: Dial, 1972.

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                        The unrealized screenplay for Dreyer’s Jesus film. Includes the interview “My Only Great Passion” (1950) and two essays by Dreyer, “Who Crucified Jesus?” (1951) and “The Roots of Antisemitism” (1959), all in slightly more fluid translations than those in Dreyer 1973 (cited under Writings). These texts make explicit Dreyer’s intention to make an anti-anti-Semitic film that would directly rebut the old Christian myth blaming the Jews for the execution of Christ.

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                        • Dreyer, Carl Th. Cinque film. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1967.

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                          This thick volume contains not only the screenplays from Dreyer 1970 in Italian translation, but also the screenplay for Gertrud, which has been only published in Italian; in fact, there is another Italian translation, published in the journal Cineforum (no. 44, April 1965). In addition, the volume contains all the writings from Dreyer 1973 (cited under Writings) as well as a number of book introductions and other short pieces.

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                          • Dreyer, Carl Th. Four Screenplays. Translated by Oliver Stallybrass. London: Thames and Hudson, 1970.

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                            The screenplays for La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vampyr, Vredens Dag, and Ordet. Useful for setting out the complete dialogue of the Danish films, sometimes truncated in subtitles. As noted in the introduction, the texts of the screenplays have been cut, and La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and Vampyr have been translated from Danish rather than from the original French; for the original texts, see Dreyer 1983.

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                            • Dreyer, Carl Th. Oeuvres cinématographiques, 1926–1934. Edited by Maurice Drouzy and Charles Tesson. Paris: Cinémathèque française, 1983.

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                              The complete French-language screenplays for La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and Vampyr, as well as treatments for the unrealized “Monsieur Lamberthier, ou Satan” and the abandoned L’Homme ensablé. The latter, an adaptation of a novel set in Africa, went into production in 1934 in Italian Somaliland, but the production was abandoned after the star fell ill. The careful introductions and annotations makes this volume an important resource.

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                              • Dreyer, Carl Th., and Christen Jul. “Vampyr: The Screenplay.” In Writing Vampyr. Translated by Oliver Stallybrass and Nicholas Elliott. Edited by Carl Th. Dreyer, Christen Jul, and Sheridan Le Fanu, 1–93. New York: Criterion Collection, 2008.

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                                The Criterion Collection’s DVD edition of the film is accompanied by a thick booklet entitled Writing Vampyr containing the complete screenplay for the film. The passages cut in Dreyer 1970 have been restored from Dreyer 1983. The booklet also includes the film’s ostensible literary source, Sheridan Le Fanu’s tale “Carmilla.” A separate booklet includes Koerber 2008 (cited under Articles on Ecdotics), an important essay on the restoration of the film.

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                                Transcriptions

                                In the early days of film studies, an exact printed shot-to-shot breakdown allowed close analysis of films that would otherwise be impossible without access to a print and a viewing table. Even with the films themselves accessible on DVD, for many analytical purposes such transcriptions remain extremely useful. They are particularly useful if they number each shot (aiding later writers to refer with precision to individual shots) and include the exact length of each shot. Impressively, Italian scholars began publishing such transcriptions right after the Second World War, including one of Vampyr (Buzzi and Lattuada 1948) and one of Ordet (Cincotti 1955), the latter coming out right after the film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in the early autumn of 1955. The French journal L’Avant-Scène Cinéma, which began publication in 1961, would devote each issue to a transcription of an important film with full dialogue and usually full shot breakdown as well; each issue would also contain documentary material including full credits, extracts from reviews, critical essays, etc. L’Avant-Scène Cinéma devoted a number of issues to Dreyer’s films, including Vredens Dag (Anonymous 1970), the short De naaede Færgen (Anonymous 1977), Vampyr (Tesson 1979), Gertrud (Cerisuelo 1984), the short Mødrehjælpen (Lavaud 1984), and La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (Kermabon 1988). Cerisuelo 1984 and Kermabon 1988 are accompanied by particularly rich documentary appendixes.

                                • Anonymous. “Dies Irae: Découpage et dialogues in extenso.” L’Avant-Scène Cinéma 100 (1970): 10–35.

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                                  Scene-by-scene transcription of Vredens Dag. Shots are not numbered, timed, or clearly separated, but the detailed running descriptions do indicate changes of shot as well as camera and character movements.

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                                  • Anonymous. “Ils attrapèrent le bac.” L’Avant-Scène Cinéma 185 (1977): 41–46.

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                                    Shot-to-shot transcription of Dreyer’s short De naaede Færgen, filmed in 1947. The shots are only briefly described, unnumbered, and not timed.

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                                    • Buzzi, Aldo, and Bianca Lattuada. Vampyr: L’étrange aventure de David Gray. Biblioteca cinematografica, seconda serie. Milan: Poligono, 1948.

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                                      Nicely printed and profusely illustrated shot-by-shot transcription of the French version of the film. The dialogue is quoted in the original French, the descriptions are in Italian. The length of each shot is given in seconds and frames. Also includes floorplans of the locations where the action takes place.

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                                      • Cerisuelo, Marc. “Gertrud: Découpage intégral après montage et dialogue in extenso.” L’Avant-Scène Cinéma 335 (1984): 33–68.

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                                        A shot-to-shot transcription of Gertrud, reproducing the full dialogue in French translation; the title cards with poems marking the major transitions in the film are also included. The length of the individual shots is not given. The issue also includes Lavaud 1984 as well as a documentary dossier assembled by Maurice Drouzy and Claude Beylie about the disastrous Paris premiere of Gertrud and the polemics that followed.

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                                        • Cincotti, Guido, ed. La Parola (Ordet). Rome: Bianco e Nero/Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, 1955.

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                                          In Italian. Labeled sceneggiatura (“screenplay”) on the cover, this is actually a shot-to-shot transcription of the film, indicating the length of individual shots, camera movement, etc.

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                                          • Kermabon, Jacques. “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc de Carl Th. Dreyer: Découpage plan à plan.” L’Avant-Scène Cinéma 367–368 (1988): 42–149.

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                                            An exemplary shot-to-shot transcription of the film, clearly setting out the content, scale, and length (in frames) of each shot. The transcription is based on a copy of the Oslo print, one of the two prints sent to Copenhagen for the film’s April 1928 world premiere. An appendix gives the Danish text of each intertitle. Accompanied by a great deal of other material; essential.

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                                            • Lavaud, Patrick. “L’aide au mères.” L’Avant-Scène Cinéma 335 (1984): 71–79.

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                                              A shot-to-shot transcription of Dreyer’s government short Mødrehjælpen, filmed in 1942, included as an appendix to Cerisuelo 1984.

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                                              • Tesson, Charles. “Vampyr: Découpage après montage et dialogues in extenso.” L’Avant-Scène Cinéma 228 (1979): 34–63.

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                                                Careful shot-by-shot transcription of the French version of the film (using a different print than that transcribed in Buzzi and Lattuada 1948, showing some discrepancies). The length of each shot is given in seconds.

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                                                Writings

                                                Dreyer was not a film theorist, but at various times in his career, he wrote a number of short texts—lectures, newspaper op-ed pieces—in which he described his artistic principles and his ideas about film art. These writings have been quite significant for many analyses of Dreyer’s work, but they have interest mainly for the light they cast on his own films rather than on filmmaking more generally. Mostly written in Danish, they were first collected by film historian Erik Ulrichsen in a small volume called Om filmen: Artikler og interviews (“On the cinema: Articles and interviews”) published in Denmark in 1959. A revised edition with two additional essays came out in 1964 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal). The Om filmen collection has been translated into many languages, including English (Dreyer 1973). Some of the most important essays were also published during Dreyer’s lifetime in English translations that he worked on himself: Dreyer 1952, Dreyer 1955, and Dreyer 1956. These translations seek to provide a text that runs smoothly in English rather than an exact rendering of the Danish original (unlike Dreyer 1973), and while they contain the occasional Danish phrasing, they are well worth seeking out. Wahl 2012 (cited under Ordet (1955)) includes very slightly different versions of the same three texts, probably taken from copies of Dreyer’s original typescripts. Dreyer worked as a journalist from 1912 to 1915, and he also had a brief stint as a film reviewer for a Copenhagen newspaper in 1936. Schepelern 1982 collects all Dreyer’s film-related early journalism and all his reviews; French translation of some early journalistic pieces (both film-related and non-film-related) can be found in Special Issue: Carl Th. Dreyer. Cahiers du cinéma 207. Maurice Drouzy uncovered a number of important documents during his research for Drouzy 1982 (cited under Books), which he collected in Drouzy 1982. A few articles by film scholars take Dreyer’s writings rather than the films as their primary topic; these also appear in this section. Tesson 1997 and Tybjerg 2007 both relate the writings primarily to Dreyer’s own films: Tesson examines a frequent theme in Dreyer’s writings, the difference between cinema and theater, and he uses it to illuminate the whole of Dreyer’s oeuvre, while Tybjerg tries to make sense of Dreyer’s notion of rhythm. Spadoni 2014 uses a remark by Dreyer to explore the notion of atmosphere in horror films.

                                                • Dreyer, Carl Th. “Film Style.” Films in Review 3.1 (1952): 15–21.

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                                                  Along with Dreyer 1956, this is Dreyer’s most extensive account of his aesthetic principles, originally a lecture Dreyer gave on 1 December 1943 to defend against the harshly critical reviews of Vredens Dag (released on 13 November 1943). Dreyer carefully sets out the importance of visual composition, insists that the real drama is the one that happens in the souls of the characters, and rejects artifice and theatricality.

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                                                  • Dreyer, Carl Th. “Color and Color Films.” Films in Review 6.4 (1955): 165–167.

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                                                    A brief essay laying out Dreyer’s ideas about working in color, insisting on the importance of careful composition, restraint, and balance. The film’s palette should be consistent and planned in advance, perhaps with the aid of a painter. The essay was first published in Danish as a newspaper op-ed.

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                                                    • Dreyer, Carl Th. “Thoughts on My Craft.” Sight and Sound 25.3 (1956): 128–129.

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                                                      Dreyer emphasizes the central role of abstraction for art, inveighing against the mere reproduction of the world and insisting on the importance of focusing on selected aspects of it according to the artist’s vision. This English version obscures a key point when he defines an aesthetic of abstraction as one that demands that the artist must “abstract himself from reality.” Dreyer 1973 has, more accurately, “abstract from reality” (p. 179).

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                                                      • Dreyer, Carl Th. Dreyer in Double Reflection: Carl Dreyer’s Writings on Film. Edited and translated by Donald Skoller. New York: Dutton, 1973.

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                                                        This is an English translation of Om Filmen: Artikler og interviews, a collection of Dreyer’s writings edited by the Danish film historian Erik Ulrichsen, first published in 1959 (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag/Arnold Busck). Skoller’s translation is not always felicitous; it tries to stay as close to the Danish phrasing as possible, which sometimes becomes awkward, and occasionally key terms are mistranslated entirely: at one point, billedbeskæring, which means “framing,” is rendered as “editing” (p. 171).

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                                                        • Drouzy, Martin [Maurice], ed. Kildemateriale til en biografi om Carl Th. Dreyer. Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1982.

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                                                          A collection of unpublished documents in Danish and Swedish, including official documents relating to Dreyer’s birth and adaptation and the death of his mother, and Dreyer’s autobiographical note of 1939, written as an aid for Neergaard 1950 (cited under Books). The choice of material reflects the specific thrust of Drouzy’s biographical interests (see Drouzy 1982, cited under Books), but it contains much valuable information on other topics of interest to Dreyer scholars.

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                                                          • Schepelern, Peter, ed. Tommen: Carl Th. Dreyers filmjournalistiske virksomhed. Sekvens: særrække. Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1982.

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                                                            In Danish. This anthology assembles nearly everything Dreyer published about film beside the articles and essays collected in Dreyer 1973, with extensive historical background commentary. It includes the many character sketches, interviews, and news items he wrote on film and film people as a journalist from 1912 to 1915 and all the reviews he wrote during his brief stint as a film reviewer in 1936.

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                                                            • Spadoni, Robert. “Carl Dreyer’s Corpse: Horror Film, Atmosphere and Narrative.” In A Companion to the Horror Film. Edited by Harry M. Benshoff, 151–167. Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 2014.

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                                                              Dreyer is mentioned only briefly in this article, a theoretically sophisticated and useful exploration of the notion of atmosphere in horror films. Spadoni takes his title from Dreyer’s remark that the atmosphere of an ordinary room is entirely changed if we learn that there is a corpse behind one of its doors. Spadoni uses this idea to argue that narrative may be highly significant for the creation of atmosphere.

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                                                              • Special Issue: Carl Th. Dreyer. Cahiers du cinéma 207 (December 1968).

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                                                                Contains various writings by Dreyer in French translation: his defiant 1919 letter to the management of Nordisk Film; a generous selection of his journalistic writings from 1912 to 1915; his 1936 reviews of Clarence Brown’s Anna Karenina and Chaplin’s Modern Times; and his 1921 essay on the Russian actors he worked with on Die Gezeichneten. (For the critical essays in the issue, see Special Issue: Carl Th. Dreyer. Cahiers du cinéma 207, cited under Anthologies).

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                                                                • Tesson, Charles. “Les supplices du théâtre.” In Réflexions sur mon métier. Edited by Carl Th. Dreyer, 9–22. Paris: Cahiers du cinéma, 1997.

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                                                                  Originally published in 1983. This essay introduces the French edition of Dreyer’s writings (like Dreyer 1973, a translation of Om Filmen). Tesson remarks on the recurrent contrast Dreyer draws between the cinema and the theater and suggests that key terms in Dreyer’s writings such as “abstraction” and “simplification” are best understood in this context as designating the attempt to subtract away all the masks and fakery to reveal the suffering soul in its nakedness.

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                                                                  • Tybjerg, Casper. “Rhythm and Image in Dreyer’s Films.” In Narration and Spectatorship in Moving Images. Edited by Barbara Anderson and Joseph Anderson, 168–176. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2007.

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                                                                    In his writings and interviews, Dreyer frequently spoke in terms of cinematic rhythm. This article examines what Dreyer meant by this. He used it not only to refer to the tempo of editing, but also to speak of various kinds of visual rhythm. The article focuses on the direction and intersection of lines, horizontality, and verticality, which Dreyer regarded as an aspect of the film’s visual rhythm.

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                                                                    Interviews

                                                                    Over the years, Dreyer gave a great many interviews. One gets the sense that he had a set of stock answers that he would give over and over, but often a few new things would appear in each interview, making selection particularly difficult. A consistent theme, present in all the cited interviews, is the importance of working with actors who are able to express the depths of the characters’ souls; Dreyer talks about this as early as the 1920s, when, in Dahlin 1926, he also mentions his admiration for the Stanislavsky school of acting. In Dahlin 1926, Dreyer describes D. W. Griffith as the ideal film director because of his ability to capture life in close-up, and he mentions Griffith (along with Victor Sjöström) as the most important influence on his work again in Delahaye 1966. In Trolle 1966, he also speaks of his veneration for Sjöström, in terms very similar to those he used in the essay “Swedish Film” (in Dreyer 1973 [cited under Writings]), published forty-five years earlier. A third director Dreyer admired was Eisenstein; he singled out the greatness of Battleship Potemkin at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival in 1955 (reported on in a text included with Sadoul 1984), and in Podselver 1947, Dreyer praised Eisenstein for his ability to renew himself with Ivan the Terrible. This reflects Dreyer’s own pride in finding distinctive styles for each of his films, each form appropriate to the material; he mentions this in both Delahaye 1966 and Trolle 1966. Dreyer also spoke repeatedly of his attraction to classical tragedy and the elements of it in his later films; the theme appears in both Sadoul 1984 and Delahaye 1966, though he insists on the dissimilarities between Gertrud and classical tragedy in Trolle 1966.

                                                                    • Dahlin, Thure. “Carl Th. Dreyer à Paris.” La Cinématographie française (27 March 1926): 5–7.

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                                                                      This interview was conducted before Dreyer was hired to do La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc. He argues that facial expressions show movements of the soul and that the role of film art is to capture these movements. Dreyer suggests that the film of the future should strive for a unity of time, space, and action, and he says that of his own films, Michael is his personal favorite.

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                                                                      • Delahaye, Michel. “Between Heaven and Hell: Interview with Carl Dreyer.” Cahiers du cinéma in English 4 (1966): 7–17.

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                                                                        Originally published in Cahiers du cinéma 170 (1965) and reprinted in Andrew Sarris’s Hollywood Voices: Interviews with Film Directors (London: Secker & Warburg, 1967), this is the longest and most detailed interview of Dreyer. It covers his whole career and all his feature films are mentioned, though Dreyer has nothing to say about Glomdalsbruden and tries to avoid talking about Två människor.

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                                                                        • Podselver, Judith. “Carl Théo Dreyer et sa situation en 1947.” La Revue du cinéma n.s., 2.8 (1947): 25–32.

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                                                                          An English version of this interview appears in the article “Motion Pictures in Denmark” (Hollywood Quarterly 3.2 [Winter 1947–1948]: 195–199), but it lacks some quotes from Dreyer and garbles others, particularly a passage in which Dreyer insists that the lighting of scenes is the director’s responsibility, and he must guide the cameraman. The interview contains a number of important statements on atmosphere, sound, and his plans for the future.

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                                                                          • Sadoul, Georges. “Carl Dreyer nous dit: ‘Le principal intérêt d’un homme; Les autres hommes.’” In Georges Sadoul, Rencontres 1: Chroniques et entretiens. Edited by Bernard Eisenschitz, 236–239. Paris: Denoël, 1984.

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                                                                            In this 1964 interview, reprinted from Les Lettres françaises 1060 (24 December), Dreyer discusses the presence of suffering women at the center of nearly all his films and speaks of his engagement with his characters and the actors who play them, insisting that the human element is the most important. In addition to the interview, the volume contains three reviews and reports by Sadoul on Dreyer’s films.

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                                                                            • Trolle, Børge. “An Interview with Carl Th. Dreyer.” Film Culture 41 (1966): 58–60.

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                                                                              This interview, originally published in Danish in Kosmorama 69 (1965), is primarily concerned with Gertrud, but it touches on several themes of more general relevance. Dreyer talks of his use of long sequence shots following the actors, his interest in being able to see both parties in a conversation simultaneously in a single shot, and of how having four-wall sets helps actors immerse themselves in their characters.

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                                                                              Dreyer in Film Theory

                                                                              Most film-theoretical discussions of the close-up, from Béla Balázs’s Der Geist des Films (Halle, Germany: W. Knapp, 1930) to Murray Smith’s Film, Art, and the Third Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), will bring up La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc at some point. Dreyer’s other films, however, appear much more infrequently in the general theoretical literature, even though some of them are also remarkably distinctive in terms of their style and their use of the film medium. One of Dreyer’s innovations was panning back and forth between two people in conversation rather than using shot/reverse shot editing, a device he uses conspicuously in Vredens Dag, Två människor, and Gertrud. He referred to the effect as flydende nærbilleder—best translated as “floating close-ups,” but rendered in Dreyer 1952 (cited under Writings) as “panoramic close-ups” and in Dreyer 1973 (cited under Writings) as “gliding close-ups” (p. 129). Bazin 1982 remarks on the effect in his review of Vredens Dag, but despite his preference for long-take aesthetics, Bazin accused Dreyer of pushing a preference for within-shot composition over editing so far that it constituted an aesthetic impoverishment. Deleuze 1986–1989 also discusses “what Dreyer himself called ‘flowing close-ups,’” (Vol. 1, p. 110), but he takes it to mean a change of shot scale from close-up to long shot within a continuous shot, which is not what Dreyer was talking about, and his suggestion that Dreyer’s sequence shots with their elaborate camera movements suppress perspective also seems odd. The lack of precision limits the usefulness of Deleuze’s thought for scholars studying Dreyer’s films (although it has proven inspirational for scholars interested in the corporeal aspects of the films like Thomsen 2006 [cited under La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928)]). Dreyer’s reliance in his later films on sequence shots characterized by fluid horizontal camera movements, hiding and disclosing characters and areas of the set as the camera moves, is discussed with more care in Sitney 1990, and Bordwell 2005 is a thought-provoking work that suggests that it constitutes a “retrospective revision” (p. 151) of the tableau style cinema of the 1910s. Brakhage 1972, while completely idiosyncratic in its approach, shares Sitney’s high-modernist interest in Dreyer’s exploration of cinema’s essence. According to Kracauer 1960, certain types of film stand in opposition to the fundamental nature of the film medium: the historical film and the fantastic film. Kracauer gives an important place to La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vredens Dag, and Vampyr because they are some of the most successful instances of these two types of film.

                                                                              • Bazin, André. The Cinema of Cruelty: From Buñuel to Hitchcock. New York: Seaver, 1982.

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                                                                                Reprints three reviews of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (occasioned by the February 1952 revival of the film), Vredens Dag (from 1947), and Ordet (from 1956). Bazin shared the widespread feeling among contemporaries that Vredens Dag was a backward-looking, silent-cinema-like work; but when writing about Ordet, he stressed Dreyer’s incomparable ability to express an “ultimate reality,” particularly through the use of light, calling Ordet “the ultimate black-and-white film” (p. 29).

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                                                                                • Bordwell, David. Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

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                                                                                  This book explores the way filmmakers have explored the resources of cinematic staging, particularly in the context of extended takes. Dreyer is discussed briefly in the chapter on Theo Angelopoulos as part of an examination of the roots of the long-take aesthetic in European art cinema; Bordwell’s remarks focus on the precision staging of Dreyer’s last films, particularly Gertrud, and on their use of de-dramatizing temps morts.

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                                                                                  • Brakhage, Stan. The Brakhage Lectures: Georges Méliès, David Wark Griffith, Carl Theodore Dreyer, Sergei Eisenstein. Chicago: Good Lion, 1972.

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                                                                                    Famed experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage gave a series of lectures accompanied by film screenings at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1970–1971. As framework for the Dreyer lecture, Brakhage uses a large number of quotations from Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Snow Queen,” linked to Dreyer because of his Danish nationality and chilly temper. There are flashes of insight but also many errors of fact.

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                                                                                    • Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. 2 vols. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986–1989.

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                                                                                      Deleuze uses La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc to exemplify the “affection-image,” one of his numerous idiosyncratic critical categories, but Dreyer’s later films also share in this category because their sequence shots de-emphasize spatial depth, effectively turning them into close-ups. Deleuze also brings up Dreyer’s later films as representing, in the actors’ somnambulistic comportment, the figure of “the Mummy,” which stands for his anti-Cartesian insistence on thought disconnected from thinking.

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                                                                                      • Kracauer, Siegfried. Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1960.

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                                                                                        Kracauer proceeds from the basic principle that each medium has a specific nature, that is, it is suitable for some things and not others. The photographic nature of film makes it suitable for the rendering of physical reality, but historical and fantastic films go against its nature. Kracauer commends Dreyer for his creativity in seeking to overcome the inherent limitations of both types, but he regards the endeavor as ultimately unsuccessful.

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                                                                                        • Sitney, P. Adams. Modernist Montage: The Obscurity of Vision in Cinema and Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                          Explores a notion of artistic modernism focused on vision as at once primary and potentially revelatory and at the same time opaque and obscure. The chapter on Dreyer describes how Ordet and Gertrud present us with visionary characters while at the same time excluding us from the content of their visions. The deliberate suppression of shot/counter-shot editing in these two films is the visual correlate for this exclusion.

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                                                                                          Anthologies

                                                                                          Collections of articles, often including important supplementary material on Dreyer, are cited here. Except for Hvidt 2006, which is the catalogue of an exhibition focusing on a particular aspect of Dreyer’s work, these anthologies all try to survey the full extent of Dreyer’s career and achievement. Special Issue: Carl Th. Dreyer. Cahiers du cinéma 207 was published in the year of Dreyer’s death, and Jensen 1988 accompanied a full retrospective of Dreyer’s films at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The two Italian conference volumes, Martini 1987 and Germani and Placereani 2004, give a good sense of the state of Dreyer research at the time.

                                                                                          • Germani, Sergio Grmek, and Giorgio Placereani, eds. Per Dreyer: Incarnazione del cinema. Proceedings of a conference held 24–25 January 2003, Udine, Italy. Milan: Il Castoro, 2004.

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                                                                                            In Italian. Authors include both younger scholars and seasoned Dreyer experts such as Jean Sémoulé, Charles Tesson, and Andriano Aprà. Also includes a complete bibliography of critical writings about Dreyer in Italian, assembled by Alessandro Giorgio, and a brief survey of DVD editions of Dreyer’s films in various countries by Valentina Cordelli.

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                                                                                            • Hvidt, Annette Rosenvold, ed. Hammershøi/Dreyer: The Magic of Images. Copenhagen: Ordrupgaard, 2006.

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                                                                                              This is the catalogue of an exhibition held at the Danish art museum Ordrupgaard and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània, Barcelona, in 2005–2006 that explores the links between the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (b. 1864–d. 1916) and Dreyer. Hammershøi’s paintings were an acknowledged inspiration for the sets Dreyer designed for his first film, Præsidenten, and scenes in Gertrud, his last film, clearly evoke Hammershøi as well.

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                                                                                              • Jensen, Jytte, ed. Carl Th. Dreyer. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1988.

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                                                                                                This handsomely illustrated volume contains a translation of Dreyer’s unrealized draft screenplay for an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea (filmed for Danish television by Lars von Trier in 1988). It also includes articles by Jytte Jensen (on the treatment of women in Dreyer’s films), Carren O. Kaston (an analysis of Ordet that emphasizes Dreyer’s metaphysical interests), and James Schamus (see Schamus 2003, cited under Article-Length General Studies).

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                                                                                                • Martini, Andrea, ed. Il cinema di Dreyer: L’eccentrico e il classico; Atti del Convegno internazionale sul tema l’opera di Carl Th. Dreyer, 16–18 november, Verona, 1984. Venice: Marsilio Editori, 1987.

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                                                                                                  In Italian. The book includes papers by Maurice Drouzy, David Bordwell, Hiroshi Komatsu, and Charles Tesson. Under the title “Un inedito di Dreyer” the book prints Dreyer’s 1939 autobiographical sketch in Italian translation. A very extensive bibliography rounds out the volume.

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                                                                                                  • Special Issue: Carl Th. Dreyer. Cahiers du cinéma 207 (December 1968).

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                                                                                                    Contains a short piece by Jean-Marie Straub praising Dreyer’s anti-bourgeois ferocity; one by Jacques Aumont about the weight of words and the self-reflexivity of Dreyer’s interiors; a long article by Barthélémy Amengual discusses oppression and spirituality in Dreyer’s films; and further pieces by Delahaye, Jean-Louis Comolli, and Jean Narboni. Except for Straub, these writers also contribute critical notes to the accompanying filmography. Also includes writings by Dreyer (see Writings).

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                                                                                                    Article-Length General Studies

                                                                                                    Most article-length studies of Dreyer’s oeuvre as a whole can be said to focus on one of two aspects that make Dreyer’s work particularly distinctive: one is style and abstraction, and the other is thematics, where “spirituality” and “interiority” tend to be dominant concerns. However, some articles are less easily categorized, and even those that clearly focus on either stylistics or thematics at least mention the other aspect as well. Of the thematically oriented studies, Ayfre 2004 and Morefield 2008 interpret Dreyer as a specifically Christian filmmaker; so does Wood 1974, but he regards the religiosity as a flaw. Vaughan 1974 is also thematically oriented, but from a more humanistic or existential standpoint. Burch 1980 and Thomson 2016 both focus on Dreyer’s style and his sometimes quite radical departures from the conventional stylistic practices of his time. Schamus 2003 looks at the paradox of Dreyer’s films being both extremely stylized and obsessively realistic. Tybjerg 2008 and Harrison 2009 both look at the idea that Dreyer’s films suggest the spiritual in a particularly powerful way, the former specifically with respect to the notion of “transcendental style” developed in Schrader 1972 (cited under Books), the latter interpreting the effect as self-referential, invoking the uncanniness of the film medium itself.

                                                                                                    • Ayfre, Amédée. “L’univers de Dreyer.” In Un cinéma spiritualiste. By Amédée Ayfre, 201–206. Paris: Cerf, 2004.

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                                                                                                      Ayfre, a priest and a friend of André Bazin, was an important figure in the post-1945 Catholic engagement with film culture. In this 1964 essay, he argues that Dreyer’s films express a coherent worldview, preoccupied with the limits of visible reality. The spiritual suggestiveness of the world Dreyer presents cannot be reduced to the emanations of individual unconscious subjectivity or to the pursuit of aesthetically pleasing form, Ayfre convincingly argues.

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                                                                                                      • Burch, Noël. “Carl Theodor Dreyer: The Major Phase.” In Cinema: A Critical Dictionary; The Major Film-Makers. Vol. 1. Edited by Richard Roud, 296–310. London: Secker & Warburg, 1980.

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                                                                                                        This aggressively formalist analysis focuses on La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vampyr, and the two last sound features. To Burch, their greatness lies in their rigorous deconstruction of the norms and devices of “transparent” story-telling cinema. Burch’s polemical one-sidedness invites disagreement; but his arguments for seeing Dreyer as engaged in systematic formal experiments are carefully made and explain why Dreyer has been held in high regard by many avant-garde filmmakers.

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                                                                                                        • Harrison, Rebecca. “Haunted Screens and Spiritual Scenes: Film as a Medium in the Cinema of Carl Theodor Dreyer.” Scandinavica 48.1 (2009): 31–36.

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                                                                                                          Presents the intriguing proposal that Dreyer’s interest in the spiritual and the unseen can be understood as a self-referential exploration of the nature of the film medium. The examination focuses on three of Dreyer’s films: La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vampyr, and Ordet. The discussion is framed by a theoretical disquisition about the uncanniness of the film medium, the simultaneous presence and absence of life on the screen.

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                                                                                                          • Morefield, Kenneth R. “Carl Theodor Dreyer and the Problem of Christian Realism.” In Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema. Edited by Kenneth R. Morefield, 47–57. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2008.

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                                                                                                            Morefield questions the account in Schrader 1972 (cited under Books), arguing convincingly that the “transcendental style” Schrader describes is more characteristic of Robert Bresson than of Dreyer. Morefield argues that Dreyer chose to present supernatural events as unambiguously real and intriguingly implies that Dreyer’s critical reputation has suffered because critics worry that Dreyer seemed to actually believe in and take as given the existence of a miracle-working deity.

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                                                                                                            • Schamus, James. “Dreyer’s Textual Realism.” In Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema. Edited by Ivone Margulies, 315–323. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                              Taking his cue from the clash between intertitles and photographed faces in La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Schamus argues that this clash is replicated in the paradoxical juxtaposition in Dreyer’s work of obsessive documentary research with extreme visual stylization, and that Dreyer, through this approach, sought to provide his characters with “real selfhood,” a project Schamus describes as a continuation of the realist tradition in Scandinavian theater.

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                                                                                                              • Thomson, C. Claire. “‘The Slow Pulse of the Era’: Carl Th. Dreyer’s Film Style.” In Slow Cinema. Edited by Tiago de Luca and Nuno Barradas Jorge, 47–58. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016.

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                                                                                                                A contribution to an anthology about contemporary “slow cinema,” the article discusses the extent to which Dreyer’s later films can be seen as precursors of this trend. Thomson seeks to ground our understanding of the Dreyer films in their historical context and suggests that our experience with later examples of slow cinema may have habituated us to it, making us underestimate the radical nature of Dreyer’s stylistic choices.

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                                                                                                                • Tybjerg, Casper. “Forms of the Intangible: Carl Th. Dreyer and the Concept of ‘Transcendental Style.’” Northern Lights 6 (2008): 59–73.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1386/nl.6.1.59_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Explores the notion of a “transcendental style,” a film style especially suited to expressing the holy, particularly as developed in Schrader 1972 (cited under Books). The article compares the aesthetic features in question, particularly as they appear in Dreyer’s films, to alternative explanations provided by David Bordwell and Torben Grodal. The article concludes that the “transcendental film” is better understood as a subset of the art film mode.

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                                                                                                                  • Vaughan, Dai. “Carl Dreyer and the Theme of Choice.” Sight and Sound 43.3 (1974): 156–162.

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                                                                                                                    This article focuses on the motif of the decisive moral choice as it is portrayed in Prästänkan, La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, and Vredens Dag. Mainly concerned with the narratives of the films, Vaughan has relatively little to say about style but remains thoughtful and sensitive, noticing small but significant details like the similarity between the sign hammered to Jeanne’s stake and the INRI-sign above Christ’s head on the crucifix.

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                                                                                                                    • Wood, Robin. “Carl Dreyer.” Film Comment 10.2 (1974): 10–17.

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                                                                                                                      Wood’s article is full of attentive stylistic observation, but he finds himself out of sympathy with Dreyer’s personality, describing him as espousing a stifling, puritanical Christianity and regarding his supposed feminism as a kind of (perverse) self-abnegation, reading Anne’s acceptance of guilt at the end of Vredens Dag as something Dreyer endorses. Wood’s critical attentiveness and clearly argued reservations make it worthwhile to engage with his disaffected view of Dreyer.

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                                                                                                                      Biographical Articles

                                                                                                                      Maurice Drouzy’s biography of Dreyer (Drouzy 1982, cited under Books) devoted most of its discussion of Dreyer’s filmmaking to interpreting the films in light of Drouzy’s discoveries about his birth and infancy. Both during the research for the book and afterward, he assembled a considerable amount of material about Dreyer’s personal life, but he left it out both to maintain argumentative clarity and to keep some intimate details private while Dreyer’s daughter was still alive. After her death, he published two articles specifically concerned with Dreyer’s personal life, Drouzy 1993 and Drouzy and Jørholt 1995.

                                                                                                                      • Drouzy, Maurice. “Les années noires de Dreyer.” Cinémathèque 4 (1993): 68–83.

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                                                                                                                        This highly detailed and meticulously researched biographical investigation covers the years immediately following the opening of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc. Drouzy draws on unique sources, including interviews with Eliane Tayar, who worked as an assistant on Vampyr, and letters in the hands of private collectors, to create a portrait of a director in existential crisis, his career in collapse, and his supposed homosexual inclinations coming to the fore.

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                                                                                                                        • Drouzy, Maurice, and Eva Jørholt. “Le maître du logis: Dreyer et sa famille.” Cinémathèque 7 (1995): 61–77.

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                                                                                                                          Drouzy decided to relate his knowledge of Dreyer’s private life in the form of a conversation with a colleague, Eva Jørholt, partly as an acknowledgment of the intimate, even gossipy, nature of the material. Dreyer, compulsively committed to his work, comes across as aloof and patriarchal, an irony (considering the sensitivity of his films to women’s points of view) Drouzy makes explicit both in his title and in his comments.

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                                                                                                                          Articles on Ecdotics

                                                                                                                          Ecdotics means “edition studies,” and film ecdotics is a highly useful term not only to describe studies concerned with preservation and restoration (like Tybjerg and Christensen 2004 on the restoration of Der var engang and Koerber 2008 on the restoration of Vampyr), but also to treat differences between various versions of the same film (Swaab 2009, for instance, compares the French and German versions of Vampyr, and Pipolo 1988 compares a number of different surviving prints of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc), as well as home-video editions (DVD and Blu-Ray editions of Dreyer’s films are covered in considerable detail in Nordfjörd 2015).

                                                                                                                          • Koerber, Martin. “Some Notes on the Restauration of Dreyer’s Vampyr.” In Vampyr DVD Booklet, 24–29. New York: Criterion Collection, 2008.

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                                                                                                                            Koerber describes his work on restoring the German version of Vampyr in 1999. He gives a strong sense of the particular difficulties raised by this film, particularly because of the peculiar way the sound work was conducted. He also notes the inconsistencies between the German censorship records and the film as it survives, points out a number of unresolved questions surrounding the film, and offers a few suggestions for future research. First version is published in Film (DFI) 7 (2000): 20–21, available online.

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                                                                                                                            • Nordfjörd, Björn. “Carl Theodor Dreyer and the Revelation of High Definition.” Journal of Scandinavian Cinema 5.3 (2015): 217–222.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1386/jsca.5.3.217_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Primarily an essay review of the 2015 Blu-Ray edition from BFI of Dreyer’s films Du skal ære din Hustru, Vredens Dag, Ordet, and Gertrud (as well as all his 1940s–1950s state-sponsored shorts), this article contains a great deal of useful information about various home video versions of Dreyer’s films. It also emphasizes the significance of the visual quality afforded by the Blu-Ray medium.

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                                                                                                                              • Pipolo, Tony. “The Spectre of Joan of Arc: Textual Variations in the Key Prints of Carl Dreyer’s Film.” Film History 2.4 (1988): 301–324.

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                                                                                                                                Very important article on the different versions of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc. Pipolo was able to establish that the print acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in the 1930s, from which it drew its circulating copies, came from the same negative as the world premiere version rediscovered in the 1980s, unlike nearly all the copies circulating in Europe, which derived from the second negative.

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                                                                                                                                • Swaab, Peter. “‘Un film vampirisé’: Dreyer’s Vampyr.” Film Quarterly 62.4 (2009): 56–62.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1525/fq.2009.62.4.56Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  A review essay occasioned by the DVD release of Vampyr in 2008, providing a detailed examination of the differences between the German version of the film, which suffered some censorship cuts, and the French version, which retains the sequences in question. The essay also examines the complete screenplay and discusses what sections of the plot are not found in the film as we have it.

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                                                                                                                                  • Tybjerg, Casper, and Thomas C. Christensen. “The Restoration of Dreyer’s Der var engang.” Journal of Film Preservation 67 (2004): 31–36.

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                                                                                                                                    Der var engang survives only in a single incomplete print, missing about one-third of the film. The article describes the decisions made in the restoration of this fragmentary material in 2002. It is intended as a model for how such a restoration might be documented, allowing subsequent scholars to understand the present state of the film and the degree to which it reflects choices made during the restoration.

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                                                                                                                                    Articles on Music

                                                                                                                                    A subject that has been largely neglected by Dreyer scholars is his very particular way of employing music in his films. Of the three citations in this section, only one, Schäfer 2013, can be said to analyze the music in a Dreyer film. It discusses the music for Vredens Dag, but does not discuss the score as a whole, focusing instead on the way the hymn “Dies Irae” is worked into it. Mathiesen 1988 provides useful background on Poul Schierbeck, who wrote the music for Vredens Dag. It contains some interesting information on his collaboration with Dreyer and on how Dreyer was able to use posthumous work of his for Ordet. Dreyer hired Schierbeck’s pupil Jørgen Jersild to write the music for Gertrud, but André 2003 is not really about the music; rather, it explores how the film as a whole can be analyzed as a musical composition.

                                                                                                                                    • André, Emmanuelle. “La petite forme musicale comme outil d’analyse: Gertrud (1964) de Carl Dreyer.” In Musiques et images au cinema: Actes du colloque Musique et images, Rennes, 2 mars 2002. Edited by Marie-Noëlle Masson and Gilles Mouëllic, 165–175. Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                      More than an analysis of the music in Gertrud, this article analyzes the film as music, going beyond the bridge-structure discussed in Revault d’Allonnes 1988 (cited under Gertrud [1964]) to see Gertrud as a series of motifs and variations that can be fruitfully analyzed in musicological terms.

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                                                                                                                                      • Mathiesen, Oddvin. Bogen om Poul Schierbeck. Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                        In Danish. A documentary biography of the Danish composer Poul Schierbeck (b. 1888–d. 1949), going through the facts of his life year by year. There is no authorial commentary, but Schierbeck’s and his wife’s reminiscences are extensively quoted, and a few pages treat Schierbeck’s work on Vredens Dag and the posthumous use of his music in Ordet.

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                                                                                                                                        • Schäfer, Robert. “Der Einsatz des “Dies irae” in Carl Theodor Dreyers Vredens Dag (1943).” In Ton-Spuren aus der Alten Welt: Europäische Filmmusik bis 1945. Edited by Ivana Rentsch and Arne Stollberg, 201–209. Munich: Edition Text+Kritik, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                          In German. Drawing on a larger research project on the use of the Dies Irae hymn in film music, the author does not analyze the whole of Poul Schierbeck’s score for Vredens Dag (which is quite brief as it is, accompanying only fifteen minutes of the film’s 105-minute running time) but carefully discusses the way the Dies Irae music appears repeatedly, both diegetically and woven into the score.

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                                                                                                                                          Studies of Individual Films

                                                                                                                                          Dreyer made only fourteen feature films over his long career, nine silents and five sound films. The amount of critical attention they have received varies a great deal; only a few studies are devoted to most of the early films, whereas the more famous later films have a substantial literature devoted to them. While some of the early films have therefore been grouped together, at least one study has been cited devoted to each individual film. Since nearly all Dreyer’s films were adaptations of preexisting literary works, many of the studies of individual films compare them to their literary source. Each subsection also includes the page or pages on the Dreyer website (Carl Th. Dreyer: The Man and His Work, cited under Online Resource) devoted to the films in question.

                                                                                                                                          Early Screenplays

                                                                                                                                          Dreyer began his film career as a screenwriter in 1912, working first for the company Skandinavisk-Russisk Handelshus, which soon changed its name to Filmfabriken Danmark, and then for Nordisk Film, the largest Danish production company, where he wrote not only scripts, but also intertitles and plot synopses for completed films. Nielsen 1997 discusses his work at the former company, Schröder 2010 his work at the latter.

                                                                                                                                          • Nielsen, Jan. “Carl Th. Dreyer: His Very First Filmscript.” Aura 4.2–3 (1997): 102–107.

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                                                                                                                                            Written as part of the research for the research for the author’s massively detailed study of the Danish silent-era production company that made Dreyer’s first screenplays into films (Jan Nielsen, A/S Filmfabriken Danmark [Copenhagen: Multivers, 2003 ]) which adds further details, the article seeks to establish the chronology of Dreyer’s first foray into screenwriting.

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                                                                                                                                            • Schröder, Stephan Michael. “The Script Consultant.” 2010.

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                                                                                                                                              Based on Schröder’s extensive research into pre-1920 screenwriting practices at Nordisk Film, based on the large collection of screenplays, writers’ contracts, and correspondence surviving from the firm’s archives, the article looks at Dreyer’s work as a screenwriter until 1918 inside this wider production context. Schröder emphasizes that Dreyer was a very well-paid employee, able to specialize in the adaptation of literary works.

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                                                                                                                                              Early Films at Nordisk (Præsidenten [1919], Blade af Satans Bog [1920–1921])

                                                                                                                                              Præsidenten (shot in 1918, released in 1919) and Blade af Satans Bog (shot in 1919, released in 1920–1921) were the first films directed by Dreyer, both for the Danish company Nordisk Film, where he had worked for several years as a writer and an editor. Both films were marked by the influence of the American cinema, particularly Griffith. In Bordwell 2010, David Bordwell discusses Dreyer’s use of editing in Præsidenten, showing how it differs from the tableau style prevalent in Danish (and European) cinema at the time. Dreyer acknowledged the influence of Griffith’s Intolerance on Blade af Satans Bog, and this has led a number of critics (including in works such as Lennig 1960) to mistakenly describe the four-part structure of Dreyer’s film as derivative of Griffith’s (in fact, as documented in Tybjerg 1999, the script for Blade af Satans Bog was written in 1913). What Dreyer was impressed by was Griffith’s use of close-ups. As both Lennig 1960 and Tybjerg 1999 point out, Blade af Satans Bog is also a political film, made in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in 1917. It has episodes set during both the French and the Russian Revolutions.

                                                                                                                                              • Bordwell, David. “The Dreyer Generation.” 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                Through a meticulous analysis of the style of Præsidenten, Bordwell argues that it is “one of the strongest and most imaginative works” of its time. He argues that Dreyer, along with a number of contemporaries (the generation of the title) were more easily able to adopt the new American experiments in using editing as a principal storytelling device. Bordwell also examines Dreyer’s set design, framings, and use of off-screen space.

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                                                                                                                                                • Carl Th. Dreyer: Leaves from Satan’s Book.

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                                                                                                                                                  Resources include credits for Blade af Satans Bog, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and a brief explanation why the film is not (as has often been claimed) an adaptation of the Victorian bestseller The Sorrows of Satan by Marie Corelli.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Carl Th. Dreyer: The President.

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                                                                                                                                                    Resources include credits for Præsidenten, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and a transcription of the film’s hard-to-read handwritten letters.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Lennig, Arthur. “Leaves from Satan’s Book.” In Film Notes of Wisconsin Film Society. Edited by Arthur Lennig, 91–97. Madison, WI: Madison Books, 1960.

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                                                                                                                                                      Lennig takes an evaluative approach, describing the film as a work of apprenticeship and as “tedious” and stressing what he regards as the film’s failures. He makes several unreasonable claims, describing Dreyer as a confirmed believer in the supernatural in the manner of English occultist Montague Summers, who was convinced vampires were real. The dismissive tone and lack of film-historical context limits the article’s worth for the contemporary scholar.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Tybjerg, Casper. “Red Satan: Carl Theodor Dreyer and the Bolshevik Threat.” In Nordic Explorations: Film before 1930. Edited by John Fullerton and Jan Olsson, 19–40. London: John Libbey, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                        The article examines the production context of Blade af Satans Bog. The film’s anti-Bolshevik theme is related to the fears of communist revolution felt in many European countries after 1917, when many films were made about the revolutionary threat. More particularly, Blade af Satans Bog is seen in the context of the production company Nordisk Film’s “tendency films,” big-budget prestige productions with a clear political theme.

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                                                                                                                                                        Scandinavian “National Films” (Prästänkan [1922], Der var engang [1922], Glomdalsbruden [1926])

                                                                                                                                                        Prästänkan (Sweden 1922), Der var engang (Denmark 1922), and Glomdalsbruden (Norway 1926) are all films that reflect the profound impact on Scandinavian filmmaking, in general, and Dreyer, in particular, of the new, highly ambitious prestige films the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern (from 1920 Svensk Filmindustri) began releasing in 1917, sparking the “golden age” of Swedish cinema. A number of these films were referred to as “national films,” which was understood as films that were based on famous literary works, used characteristic landscapes as locations and well-known paintings as visual models, and had characters wear national costumes or follow folk customs. Sandberg 2006 discusses how, in making Prästänkan, Dreyer made use of, instead of studio sets, authentic buildings at the Maihaugen Open Air Folk Museum at Lillehammer, an institution devoted to preserving Norway’s folk architecture and customs. Tybjerg 2001 argues that Der var engang is the clearest Danish example of a film that follows the Swedish model of the “national film.” The similarity of Glomdalsbruden in both plot and theme to one of key Swedish “golden age” films, Synnöve Solbakken (John Brunius, 1919), is discussed in both Iversen 1988 and Tybjerg 2015.

                                                                                                                                                        • Carl Th. Dreyer: The Bride of Glomdal.

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                                                                                                                                                          Resources include credits for Glomdalsbruden, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and an article on the Norwegian author Jacob B. Bull, two of whose stories Dreyer combined in the film.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Carl Th. Dreyer: Once Upon a Time.

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                                                                                                                                                            Resources include credits for Der var engang, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and a reprint of Tybjerg and Christensen 2004 (cited under Articles on Ecdotics), which discusses the 2002 restoration of the film.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Carl Th. Dreyer: The Parson’s Widow.

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                                                                                                                                                              Resources include credits for Prästänkan, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and program booklets in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, German, and English.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Iversen, Gunnar. “Dreyer i Norge: Carl Theodor Dreyer og Glomdalsbruden.” Z filmtidsskrift 3 (1988): 54–58.

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                                                                                                                                                                In Norwegian. The article places the film in the context of Norwegian film production in the 1920s. It also compares its naturalism to that of influential Swedish filmmakers such as Victor Sjöström and, particularly, Mauritz Stiller. It discusses the film’s orchestration of space, particularly in the contrast between the rich farm and the poor, and compares the film with the short story on which it is based.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Sandberg, Mark. “Mastering the House: Performative Inhabitation in Carl Th. Dreyer’s The Parson’s Widow.” In Northern Constellations: New Readings in Nordic Cinema. Edited by C. Claire Thomson, 23–42. Norwich, UK: Norvik, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This article delves into Dreyer’s use of authentic buildings as sets for Prästänkan. Sandberg develops an interpretation of the film as centrally concerned with the way the past weighs upon and constrains the living, in a way similar to the way Dreyer and his actors were constrained by the buildings used for the filming. Sandberg draws extensively on original sources in Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Tybjerg, Casper. “Dreyer and the National Film in Denmark.” Film History 13.1 (2001): 23–36.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2979/FIL.2001.13.1.23Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    This article argues that Der var engang constitutes the clearest Danish example of a broader trend in the Scandinavian cinema of the early 1920s of making “national films.” The article also discusses the film’s difficult production process, the sections missing from the only surviving print, and the efforts of the Danish Foreign Office to use this and other films to promote a particular image of the nation abroad.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Tybjerg, Casper. “On the Periphery of the ‘National Film’: Danish Cinematic Border Crossings, 1918–1929.” European Journal of Scandinavian Studies 45.2 (2015): 169–188.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Examines Dreyer’s work in Norway on Glomdalsbruden as one of several examples of border-crossing Danish filmmakers of the 1920s, including Gunnar Sommerfeldt and George Schnéevoigt (the latter was Dreyer’s former cameraman), who both directed important Norwegian silent films. The article also discusses the usefulness of Jurij Lotman’s concept of the boundary, a theoretical concept suitable, at least as a heuristic device, for the investigation of border-crossing filmmakers like Dreyer.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Die Gezeichneten (1922)

                                                                                                                                                                      This extraordinary film about a pogrom in Russia in 1905 is one of a very small number of silent films to directly address anti-Semitism. It was made in Germany, but many cast members were Russian émigrés, including several actors from Stanislavsky’s Moscow Art Theatre, and Dreyer went to great lengths to make the Russian milieu of the film as authentic as possible. It was based on a Danish novel with a highly complicated plot, discussed in both Prawer 2005 and Eisenschitz 2016. Prawer concentrates his account on the film’s story and characters, while Eisenschitz is oriented more toward the historical context, discussing the film’s print history, its production company, and its place in Dreyer’s career.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Carl Th. Dreyer: Love One Another.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Resources include credits for Die Gezeichneten, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and an article on Aage Madelung, the author of the source novel.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Eisenschitz, Bernard. “Aimez-vous les uns les autres/Les déshérités.” Trafic 99 (2016): 125–137.

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                                                                                                                                                                          This excellent article carefully contextualizes the production of Die Gezeichneten and offers an attentive examination of the film’s Griffith-like aspects. It also provides new material from Russian sources, including testimony that Eisenstein was familiar with the film and not only used it in his teaching at the VGIK film school, but also took inspiration from it when writing the unfilmed pogrom section of the scenario 1905 that eventually became Potemkin.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Prawer, S. S. Between Two Worlds: The Jewish Presence in German and Austrian Film, 1910–1933. New York: Berghahn, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                            This book discusses how Jewish life was portrayed in pre-1933 German and Austrian films, proceeding on a film-by-film basis. Die Gezeichneten is given its own section in the chapter on dramas and melodramas of the silent period. While he has some reservations about the convoluted plot, Prawer recognizes the film’s strengths, including the careful orchestration of the characters’ glances and its convincing reconstruction of a small Russian town.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Michael (1924)

                                                                                                                                                                            This expensive production gave Dreyer full access to the resources of the major German film corporation UFA, as noted in Aurich 1992. The big, expansive sets serve as a frame for a small, intimate drama about a famous painter and Michael, his model and protégé. The film therefore takes place in a milieu of artists, a theme explored in both Heinemann 2012 and Hickethier 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Aurich, Rolf. “Ein Däne bei der Ufa: Michael von Carl Theodor Dreyer.” In Das Ufa-Buch: Kunst und Krisen, Stars und Regisseure, Wirtschaft und Politik. Edited by Hans-Michael Bock and Michael Töteberg, 136–137. Frankfurt: Zweitausendeins, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                              In German. This short article covers a lot of material about the production context of Michael and the advantageous working conditions Dreyer had for this expensive and prestigious production. The article appears in Das Ufa-Buch, an amazingly detailed and meticulously researched coffee-table-book-cum-reference work on the big German studio of the interwar years, a key resource for anyone doing research on the German cinema of the period.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Carl Th. Dreyer: Michael.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Resources include credits for Michael, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and an article on Herman Bang’s source novel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Heinemann, David. “Michael and Gertrud: Art and the Artist in the Films of Carl Theodor Dreyer.” In Framing Film: Cinema and the Visual Arts. Edited by Steven Allen and Laura Hubner, 149–164. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  The article discusses Michael and Gertrud in terms of the central place of both art and artists in both films. Framed by gnomic quotes from Deleuze, the article otherwise stays focused on the place of art within the films’ narratives, in their mise-en-scène, and in their dialogue: in Michael, art is often presented in terms of buying, selling, and possessing. He also discusses stylistic aspects, perhaps overstating Michael’s “stylistic excess.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hickethier, Knut. “Maler und Modell: Der verschwiegene Diskurs in Carl Theodor Dreyers Michael.” In Genie und Leidenschaft: Künstlerleben im Film. Edited by Jürgen Felix, 19–34. St. Augustin, Germany: Gardez! Verlag, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    In German. Concentrates on the portrayal of art and artists in Michael. Artworks and their creation play a relatively small role in the film; instead, they function as extensions of the characters and their erotic desires, which must remain unspoken. As in the source novel, art is portrayed as overwhelmingly autobiographical. Also calls attention to the importance of the manner Dreyer stages how the characters see and look at each other.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Du skal ære din Hustru (1925)

                                                                                                                                                                                    Though this film is held by many critics to be Dreyer’s best and most mature film before La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, very few studies are devoted to it. Both Pym 1977, a brief review, and Tybjerg 2000, a longer article, discuss the remarkable way the film stays almost entirely confined to a small, two-room apartment, and how Dreyer uses these constraints to his advantage.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Carl Th. Dreyer: Master of the House.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Resources include credits for Du skal ære din Hustru, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and an article on Svend Rindom, who wrote the stage play on which the film is based.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pym, John. “Du skal aere din hustru (Master of the House).” Monthly Film Bulletin 44.522 (1977): 155–156.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Review of a reissue of the film, pointing out the constriction of the film’s set design and the carefully constructed symmetries of the story.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tybjerg, Casper. “Honor Thy Craft: Questions of Style in Dreyer’s Master of the House.” Aura 6.2 (2000): 58–71.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          The article examines different stylistic aspects of Du skal ære din Hustru and how they were deliberately crafted by Dreyer. It questions the comparison with Italian neorealism made by a number of critics, looking instead at the film’s elective affinity with the German Kammerspielfilm. It examines how Dreyer adapted the stage play on which the film was based as well as his use of rapid editing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928)

                                                                                                                                                                                          La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc came out near the end of the silent period: shot during 1927, it had its world premiere in Copenhagen in April 1928, and the Paris premiere followed in October. A year later, in the fall of 1929, the talkies arrived in continental Europe, and the art of the silent cinema was pushed aside. La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, while not a popular success, had been acclaimed by at least some critics as a masterpiece. While the silent cinema was eclipsed by the talkies, La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc had established itself as a classic, and it remains as highly regarded as ever. It has attracted far more commentary than any other Dreyer film, and a separate bibliography is dedicated to it (see the Oxford Bibliographies article “The Passion of Joan of Arc”). It contains several citations from the special issue of L’Avant Scène Cinéma dedicated to the film (no. 367–368; see Kermabon 1988, cited under Transcriptions), perhaps the most useful single resource. Here, only a small selection of writings will be included, emphasizing the historical context. Abel 1987 gives a very extensive overview of contemporary French filmmaking and the industrial and artistic context in which La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc was made. Margolis 1997 examines the historical and novelistic sources Dreyer had available to him when writing the film’s screenplay, and how he made use of them. Martensen-Larsen 1992 discusses how Dreyer and his production designers sought to find a look that captured the spirit of the historical period when the film is set. O’Brien 1996 details how the unusual style of Dreyer’s film was received by contemporaries. A pioneering examination of the different versions of the film circulating before the discovery of one of the two 1928 world premiere prints in Norway in the early 1980s is provided in Pipolo 1988 (cited under Articles on Ecdotics), though Pipolo wrongly discounts the significance of the Norwegian print, the authenticity of which is proven by censorship markings. An interesting discussion of the film’s remediation on DVD can be found in Burt 2007. Davis 1987 (cited under Vredens Dag [1943]) has significant things to say about the way La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc presents and interprets the historical facts. On the more interpretive side, Thomsen 2006 discusses Dreyer’s “haptic imagery.”

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Abel, Richard. French Cinema: The First Wave, 1915–1929. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            This massive volume is an invaluable resource on the French cinema of the 1920s; the first three parts of the book describe the structure of the industry and the production context, while the fourth presents detailed discussions of key films. The section on La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (pp. 486–500) provides careful aesthetic analysis and explains how the film fits into the larger context of late-1920s French filmmaking.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Burt, Richard. “Getting Schmedieval: Of Manuscript and Film Prologues, Paratexts, and Parodies.” Exemplaria 19.2 (2007): 217–242.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1179/175330707X212840Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              The article looks at the way cinematic paratexts, such as title sequences and intertitles in film, can be analogized to medieval paratexts like marginal notes, performing an important role in providing the movies with a veneer of authenticity. The 1999 Criterion Collection DVD edition of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and the legitimating function of its audio commentary are among the specific examples discussed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Carl Th. Dreyer: The Passion of Joan of Arc.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Resources include credits for La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and several articles, among them a Danish version of Martensen-Larsen 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Margolis, Nadia. “Trial by Passion: Philology, Film, and Ideology in the Portrayal of Joan of Arc, 1900–1930.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 27.3 (1997): 445–493.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  This long article examines the major 19th-century and early-20th-century treatments of Joan of Arc by historians and novelists in France, placing Dreyer’s film at the end of a tradition of engaging closely with the historical documents. The discussion of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc draws on important, difficult-to-access documents describing the involvement of historian Pierre Champion in the writing of the screenplay.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Martensen-Larsen, Britta. “Die Bedeutung mittelalterlicher Miniaturen für Carl Th. Dreyers Film La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc.” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 55.1 (1992): 136–149.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/1482604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In German. This article, written by an art historian, examines in detail how Dreyer and production designers Hermann Warm and Jean Hugo drew on the early-15th-century illuminated manuscript of the travels of Marco Polo called Le Livre des Merveilles (lit. The book of wonders) to create the distinctive stylized look of the film.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • O’Brien, Charles. “Rethinking National Cinema: Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and the Academic Aesthetic.” Cinema Journal 35.4 (1996): 3–30.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/1225715Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      An examination of the film in the context of contemporary popular representations of Joan of Arc, including Marco de Gastyne’s competing film La merveilleuse vie de Jeanne d’Arc (1929). O’Brien argues convincingly that more than a challenge to Hollywood-style filmmaking, Dreyer’s film was seen at the time as standing in opposition to an academic aesthetic prevalent in big-budget historical spectacles such as Gastyne’s film.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Thomsen, Bodil Marie. “On the Transmigration of Images: Flesh, Spirit and Haptic Vision in Dreyer’s Jeanne d’Arc and von Trier’s Golden Heart Trilogy.” In Nordic Constellations: New Readings in Nordic Cinema. Edited by C. Claire Thomson, 43–57. Norwich, UK: Norvik, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Compares La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc to Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), and Dancer in the Dark (2000), arguing that the intense close-ups of Dreyer’s film, showing the texture of skin and faces, appeal to the sense of touch in a way best characterized as haptic imagery, and that von Trier’s films, inspired by Dreyer, engage our bodily senses in a similar way.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vampyr (1932)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vampyr is a strange and elusive film; Aumont 1993 compares it to dreams and labyrinths. Even its date is often given wrongly, confusing the comparisons to Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) made by several commentators; Vampyr was shot between March and October 1930, before production started on the American film, but it came out only in 1932. It is ostensibly based on the 19th-century story collection In a Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, primarily the tale “Carmilla,” but the story of Vampyr is almost entirely different. Dreyer’s adaptation of Le Fanu is discussed in Prawer 1980 and Rudkin 2005. The feeling of elusiveness created by Vampyr makes it, according to Nash 1976, an instance of the fantastic in the specific sense used by the critic Tzvetan Todorov: a fiction in which events occur that may or may not be supernatural, leaving the audience uncertain about their reality status. Carroll 1998 challenges this idea, since Vampyr presents us with a world where the supernatural is evidently real: ghosts and shadows can kill, and undead vampires emerge from buried coffins to drink the blood of the living and are destroyed when a stake is driven through their hearts. Even the main character’s strange dreams allow for precognition and remote viewing, making them supernatural in character. Carroll instead argues that the film’s narrative unpredictability creates the enigmatic feeling. The film continuously thwarts our expectations at the micro-level as well, by creating uncertainty about whether a given shot corresponds to a character’s point of view or not. Both Nash 1976 and Rudkin 2005 remark on this, and it is an important focus of the analysis in both Aumont 1993 and Peirse 2008. The feeling of dislocation is amplified by the film’s handling of sound, as shown in Bigelow 2015.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Aumont, Jacques. Vampyr de Carl Th. Dreyer. Crisnée, Belgium: Yellow Now, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          This small, elegant volume provides an explicitly cinephile, reflective, and suggestive appreciation of the film. Aumont explores the implications of approaching the film as a labyrinth and as a dream, of its disquieting rhythms, and of its conscious ironies. One of the most interesting sections discusses Dreyer’s persistent use of the upside-down throughout the film. A series of appendixes reproduce various important documents.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bigelow, Benjamin. “Lurking in the Blind Space: Vampyr and the Multilinguals.” Journal of Scandinavian Cinema 5.3 (2015): 223–239.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1386/jsca.5.3.223_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Written with a solid grounding in recent film-historical research, this article argues that the conspicuous way Vampyr hides or obscures a great deal of story action, making the action persistently enigmatic and eerie, resulted from Dreyer’s efforts to make a film that could be post-synchronized in three different languages. In fully half of the shots, including speech, the speaker’s mouth is unseen or obscured, obviating the need for exact synchronization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Carl Th. Dreyer: Vampyr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Resources include credits for Vampyr, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and the first (2000) version of Koerber 2008 (cited under Articles on Ecdotics), which discusses the restoration of the film.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Carroll, Noël. “Notes on Dreyer’s Vampyr.” In Interpreting the Moving Image. By Carroll Noël, 105–117. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Carroll compares Vampyr to Tod Browning’s 1931 Dracula, where—as in many other horror films—skeptical characters must be convinced that the supernatural monster is real; in Vampyr, unusually and eerily, characters accept the existence of the supernatural with mild surprise at most. This state of passive acceptance, Carroll further argues, is also imposed on the viewer by making the story difficult to follow and its direction impossible to predict.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Nash, Mark. “Vampyr and the Fantastic.” Screen 17.3 (1976): 29–67.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/screen/17.3.29Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tries to establish that Vampyr is an instance of the fantastic in Todorov’s sense. Nash’s analysis is very strongly marked by structuralist linguistics, discussing the film’s point-of-view effects in terms of “pronoun functions.” The misleading linguistics-based theoretical framework leads him to an attempt to shoehorn the shots of the film into these grammatical categories, conducted through the tabulation of three sequences from the film across nearly twenty pages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Peirse, Alison. “The Impossibility of Vision: Vampirism, Formlessness and Horror in Vampyr.” Studies in European Cinema 5.3 (2008): 161–170.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1386/seci.5.3.161_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Discusses how the vision of the film’s protagonist David Gray is continuously obstructed by locked doors, screens, and closed windows. His capacity for action is further undermined by his uncertain bodily solidity, particularly in the famous sequence where he separates into no less than three wispy selves. This bodily instability is the main source of horror in Vampyr, Peirse argues, emphasizing the uncanny formlessness of the old vampire-woman as well.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Prawer, S. S. Caligari’s Children: The Film as Tale of Terror. New York: Da Capo, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An important early book on horror cinema. The chapter on Vampyr has good indications of worthwhile discussions of the film in earlier books and praises Dreyer’s exceptional ability to evoke the uncanny, a central concept in Prawer’s book. Prawer presents a series of suggestive quotes from Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly, indicating that Dreyer took many ideas for the look and atmosphere of Vampyr from it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Rudkin, David. Vampyr. BFI Film Classics. London: BFI, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this enthusiastic BFI Film Classics volume, Rudkin, a screenwriter, provides a careful stylistic analysis of the shots in Vampyr, emphasizing that the film is “visually the most transgressive in existence” (p. 24). The analysis brings out the persistent strangeness of the editing patterns, the camera movements, the eyelines, and the placement of the characters in relation to the camera. Some errors of fact are found in the historical background sections.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vredens Dag (1943)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vredens Dag was adapted from Anne Pedersdotter, a Norwegian stage play by Hans Wiers-Jenssen, which, in turn, was loosely based on an actual witchcraft prosecution in 16th-century Norway. Coiner 1989 focuses on the play and does not discuss the underlying historical events at all, whereas Drouzy 1996 details the historical events on which the play was based, showing that Wiers-Jenssen changed a great many details about the historical characters, and Dreyer distanced the story even further from the specific incident by moving the action to Denmark and shifting the time period more than half a century forward. Vredens Dag as historical fiction is also examined in a broader perspective in Davis 1987 and Pipolo 1990. Wiers-Jenssen was a convinced believer in spiritualism and the paranormal, and some of the stage directions of the play suggest that some of the incidents are caused by the heroine Anne’s psychic powers. Livingston 2009 examines the question of whether Dreyer intended his audience to believe, or to wonder, that Anne is or might be a witch. Some critical writings of the film have seen it as subtle and morally ambiguous work, but Peucker 1995 denies this, regarding the film as being entirely on the side of Anne, condemning the sexual repression of the puritanical society it portrays and aligning itself completely with the freedom suggested by the film’s images of nature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Carl Th. Dreyer: Day of Wrath.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Resources include credits for Vredens Dag, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and original set and costume designs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Coiner, Miles. “Dramaturgy and Theme: A Comparison of Day of Wrath and Anne Pedersdotter.” Literature/Film Quarterly 17.2 (1989): 123–128.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Compares Vredens Dag with the Norwegian play on which it was based, principally through a detailed discussion of the first act. The article argues convincingly that the various changes made by Dreyer effectively bring forward the social context of witchcraft belief, heighten the drama, and make the moral positions of the characters more interestingly ambiguous.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Davis, Natalie Zemon. “‘Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead’: Film and the Challenge of Authenticity.” Yale Review 76.4 (1987): 457–482.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This suggestive essay argues that fiction films can enrich our understanding of the historical past: the world of the great witchcraft persecutions is very successfully portrayed in Vredens Dag, which grounds witchcraft beliefs in everyday reality and local relationships, very much in line with recent historical scholarship. Davis also commends the film for suggesting that our understanding of historical events depends on an interpretation of fundamentally ambiguous sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Drouzy, Maurice. “L’humaniste et la sorcière.” In Jour de colère. Edited by Hans Wiers-Jenssen, 7–18. Lausanne, Switzerland: Éditions Esprit Ouvert, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In this introduction to a French translation of Wiers-Jenssen’s stage play, Drouzy details the actual historical incident on which the play was based. He describes the career of the real Absalon Beyer, a 16th-century theologian who occupies a significant place in the history of Norwegian theology and letters. His wife Anne Pedersdotter was indeed tried for witchcraft and burned at the stake, but only years after her husband’s death.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Livingston, Paisley. Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman: On Film as Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570171.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This book is an exploration of a range of problems in philosophical aesthetics, mostly using Ingmar Bergman’s films as examples. Chapter 4, “Partial Intentionalism,” instead focuses on Dreyer’s Vredens Dag. Livingston asks whether Anne was meant by Dreyer to be a witch or not, arguing convincingly that Dreyer did not intend Anne to be a witch and that we should not understand her to be one.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Peucker, Brigitte. Incorporating Images: Film and the Rival Arts. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This book discusses film in its relation to the arts of painting and literature from a perspective informed by psychoanalytic theory. One section is devoted to Vredens Dag, offering an almost exclusively thematic reading of the film; no more than two brief remarks are devoted to the movements of the camera. Surprisingly, there is no discussion of the film’s evocation of Rembrandt and other 17th-century paintings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pipolo, Tony. “Historical Consciousness in Carl Dreyer’s Day of Wrath.” Persistence of Vision 8 (1990): 15–28.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pipolo analyzes the most important tracking shots in Vredens Dag. He does not regard them as merely formal exercises but argues that they are closely linked to the film’s theme and meaning; Pipolo suggests that the camera movements in Vredens Dag reflect a “historical consciousness,” which, in this context, means the imagined, fictive consciousness of someone with the mind-set of the s17th-century period in which the film is set.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Två människor (1945)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In late 1943, Dreyer went to Sweden to work for the large film company Svensk Filmindustri (SI). He made one film there, a chamber drama with only two actors and a single set. The film was based on a play; in a study of Dreyer’s adaptation of it, Egholm 2010 shows that Dreyer was more committed to the dramatic unities of time, place, and action than his stage-play source, collapsing two locations and two separate times into one. Unfortunately, Dreyer could not get the actors he wanted and later disowned the film, describing his differences with the management at SI in public polemics in the Swedish newspapers in 1948 and 1959. These problems are documented in Olsson 1983 and further analyzed in Olsson 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Carl Th. Dreyer: Two People.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Resources include credits for Två människor, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and a reprint of Olsson 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Egholm, Morten. “From Working Class Drama to Academic Showdown: On Carl Th. Dreyer’s Use of His Literary Source in Två Människor [Two People] (1945).” Scandinavian-Canadian Studies 19 (2010): 128–143.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The article discusses the play Dreyer adapted for his screenplay to Två människor, Close Quarters, an English-language adaptation of Attentat, a play by the obscure German-Jewish anti-Nazi writer Oscar Somin. Working with letters written to his producers and other documents, Egholm shows how Dreyer’s adaptation changed Somin’s working-class hero and government minister villain into rival academics, toning down the political element of Close Quarters and emphasizing the psychological aspects instead.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Olsson, Jan. “Carl Th. Dreyers ‘Två människor’: En källkritisk dokumentation av bakgrund och polemik.” Sekvens (1983): 165–187.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In Swedish. This article is mainly a documentation. It reprints in full a number of documents relating to Dreyer’s stay in Sweden from 1943 to 1945 (including letters to the Swedish immigration authorities), his work for the company SI on Två människor, and the subsequent polemics in the Swedish newspapers in 1948 and 1959, where Dreyer disowned the film.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Olsson, Jan. “Två människor/Two people.” In The Cinema of Scandinavia. Edited by Tytti Soila, 79–88. London: Wallflower, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Olsson first probes the concept of artistic failure from a theoretical point of view, then discusses the process whereby Dreyer came to disown Två människor, building on Olsson 1983. He also discusses the analyses of the film in Bordwell 1981 and Kau 1989 (both cited under Books), adding his own observations concerning the significance of the changes imposed by the producers, which Olsson suggests badly undercut Dreyer’s artistic intentions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ordet (1955)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ordet was based on a drama by Kaj Munk, often counted among the five most important Danish plays of the 20th century. The film’s relation to Munk’s drama is explored in Drouzy 1996 and Tybjerg 2003. The film’s stylistic peculiarities—relying on long sequence shots with slow horizontal camera movements but shifting at the end to more rapid and conventional editing patterns—has been described in Bordwell 1981 (cited under Books) and Sitney 1990 (cited under Dreyer in Film Theory) and commented on frequently by other stylistically interested scholars. The author of Petric 1975 arguably fails to capture the significance of the shift because he focuses entirely on the film’s final sequence, but he does bring out the crucial importance of lighting, editing, and camera placement in creating the extraordinary atmosphere that leads up to and supports the miracle at the end of the film. Ponder 2012 approaches Ordet from a theological viewpoint, ingeniously linking it with the film’s stylistic peculiarities. While many readers will have trouble accepting the theological premises, the argumentation is conducted with respect for the film studies literature and a fair-minded discussion of other viewpoints. Bhaskar 1999 attacks historical poetics, Bordwell’s approach, for failing to capture the thematic significance of Dreyer’s work; Tybjerg 2003 uses archival research on Ordet to defend historical poetics against the critiques in Bhaskar 1999 as well as Carney 1989 (cited under Books). Saxton 2010 discusses the ethical import of Ordet in the light of Derrida’s ethical philosophy, which it seeks to defend against the charge that the self-devouring, everything-turns-into-its-opposite nature of deconstructive philosophy makes it evasive with respect to ethical issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bhaskar, Ira. “‘Historical Poetics,’ Narrative, and Interpretation.” In A Companion to Film Theory. Edited by Robert Stam and Toby Miller, 387–412. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bhaskar argues that historical poetics fails to consider the thematic, emotional, and psychological significance of film style, using the analysis of Ordet in Bordwell 1981 (cited under Books) as his example. He charges that Bordwell reduces the value of Dreyer’s style to its defamiliarization effect. Instead, Bhaskar argues, Ordet must be interpreted as a meditation on the crisis of faith in the modern world, affirming the value of rationality-transcending belief.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Carl Th. Dreyer: The Word.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Resources include credits for Ordet, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and an extract from Paul Auster’s novel Invisible (2009) about experiencing the film.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Drouzy, Maurice. “La parole qui réveille.” In Ordet: Pièce en quatre actes. By Kaj Munk. Translated by Vincent Dulac, 7–22. Auribeau-sur-Siagne, France: Éditions Esprit Ouvert, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is an introduction to a French translation of the play Ordet by Kaj Munk. It describes the career of Munk (b. 1898–d. 1944), who was a Lutheran pastor in Vedersø, close to where Ordet is set and where Dreyer’s film was shot, but also the most renowned Danish playwright of his generation. Drouzy focuses on Ordet, the play, and how it reflects Munk’s theological ideas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Petric, Vladimir. “Dreyer’s Concept of Abstraction.” Sight and Sound 44.2 (1975): 108–112.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Written in response to Vaughan 1974 (cited under Article-Length General Studies), this essay strongly objects to the idea that films can be meaningfully analyzed without careful attention to their use of the cinematic medium. Petric carries out a detailed, shot-by-shot examination of the final sequence of Ordet; he refers to Eisenstein’s notion of “overtonal vibrations” and argues that it is precisely through such means that the film’s spirituality is conveyed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ponder, Justin. “‘I Bid Thee Arise!’ Reverse-Editing and Reversal Miracles in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Ordet.” Religion and the Arts 16.1–2 (2012): 100–121.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1163/156852912X615892Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        After a presentation of the theological debate on miracles, proceeding from the Church Fathers through Hume to the 20th century, and an examination of the frequent references to miracles in the film’s dialogue, the article proceeds to argue that the shift from sequence shots to reverse-field editing reflects the restoration of the original prelapsarian order, where miracles were simply part of the divine arrangement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Saxton, Libby. “Deconstructive Ethics: Derrida, Dreyer, Responsibility.” In Film and Ethics: Foreclosed Encounters. By Lisa Downing and Libby Saxton, 107–120. London: Routledge, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Argues that Ordet and La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc can be illuminated by relating their concerns to aspects of Derrida’s ethical philosophy. While decrying the patriarchal character of Dreyer’s authorial presence, Saxton commends the films for their moral complexity: both explore the conflict between ethical responsibilities to God and to other people but refuse to resolve this conflict, thus paralleling Derrida in warning against “overly complacent moral discourses” (p. 118).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Tybjerg, Casper. “The Sense of The Word.” In Film Style and Story. Edited by Lennard Højbjerg and Peter Schepelern, 171–213. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines a number of critical writings on Ordet, showing how they follow the critical routines described by Bordwell in Making Meaning (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989). The article offers a defense of Bordwell’s historical poetics supported by an examination of the handling of the miracle in Kaj Munk’s writings (including an early film treatment) and in the contemporary press, as well as of Dreyer’s frequent invocations of parapsychological phenomena in his discussions of Ordet.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Wahl, Jan. Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ordet: My Summer with the Danish Filmmaker. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813136189.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A valuable document, this slim volume is a personal memoir of how Wahl observed the location shoot for Ordet in the summer of 1954, where he had several long conversations with Dreyer, which he carefully documented. Wahl also describes the shooting of a number of outdoor scenes that Dreyer decided to leave out of the finished film. Appendixes include versions of Dreyer 1952, Dreyer 1955, and Dreyer 1956 (all cited under Writings).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gertrud (1964)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gertrud was based on a 1908 stage play by the Swedish author Hjalmar Söderberg, a contemporary of Strindberg who remains a relatively obscure figure outside Scandinavia. Dreyer was fascinated by a biographical study arguing that the play was autobiographical, Söderberg basing the poet Gabriel Lidman on himself and Gertrud on his former mistress Maria von Platen. Dreyer added an epilogue to his film that was based on a letter Maria von Platen sent late in life to a friend. These connections are explored in Drouzy 1994, which reproduces the letter (also found in an appendix to Revault d’Allonnes 1988). Drouzy 1982 (cited under Books) argues that Dreyer was attracted to the material because he identified von Platen with the birth mother he never knew; Drouzy also discusses this in an appendix to Revault d’Allonnes 1988. Egholm 2006 and Rosenbaum 1985 also both examine the relation between film and play. Egholm rejects Drouzy’s interpretation, suggesting that it is more likely Dreyer identified himself with Lidman. Rosenbaum also discusses Drouzy’s autobiographical interpretation but ingeniously suggests that the enigmatic nature of Gertrud the character signals that Gertrud the film cannot be captured by mere biography. Dreyer briefly discusses the film’s symmetrical rising and falling structure in Trolle 1966 (cited under Interviews), and both Drouzy 1996 (cited under Vredens Dag [1943]) and (in greater detail) Revault d’Allonnes 1988 examine this idea. Revault d’Allonnes 1988 stresses the film’s paradoxical character: how it adheres to the conventions of drawing room drama while embracing modernist minimalism and ambiguity, and how its staging evokes silent cinema while the words of the dialogue are given the gravest emphasis. The film’s unusual style, with its long takes and its characters standing still for long periods of time, speaking their lines solemnly and without looking at each other, is argued in Egholm 2006 to have been developed by Dreyer in an effort to be faithful to Söderberg; Burch and Dana 1974 describes it as creating an almost Brechtian alienation effect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Burch, Noël, and Jorge Dana. “Propositions.” Afterimage 5 (1974): 40–66.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The article argues against regarding cinema as an interconnected whole, stressing instead the decisive gap separating mainstream “institutional” cinema from a “crestline” of aesthetically antinomian and anti-illusionistic self-reflective works comparable to serial music, nonfigurative painting, and conceptual sculpture. Burch and Dana present a detailed examination of Gertrud as an exemplification of the (very rare) kind of film committed throughout to the “deconstruction” of “the codes” of institutional cinema.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Carl Th. Dreyer: Gertrud.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Resources include credits for Gertrud, plot summary, details of the film’s production and reception, and a short introduction by James Schamus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Drouzy, Maurice. “Gertrud ou l’amour dissonant.” In Gertrud. Translated by Vincent Dulac. Edited by Hjalmar Söderberg, 7–20. Lausanne: Éditions Esprit Ouvert, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This essay serves as an introduction to a French translation of Söderberg’s stage play Gertrud. Drouzy introduces the author and examines the main characters in detail, noting the autobiographical elements in Söderberg’s play. He also includes a French translation of the letter by Maria von Platen (the real-life model for Söderberg’s Gertrud), which inspired Dreyer’s concluding epilogue for the film.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Egholm, Morten. “The Innovative and Wilful [sic] Adaptor: What Carl Th. Dreyer Did to Hjalmar Söderberg’s Gertrud.” Tijdschrift voor Skandinavistiek 27.2 (2006): 157–177.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This article examines Gertrud as an adaptation of Hjalmar Söderberg’s play. In separate sections, Egholm compares film and play on the levels of narrative, character, and style. Dreyer cut around half of Söderberg’s dialogue and added a character, but the main outline of the action remains much the same. The characters have had some of their naturalistic backstory details removed, making them seem less coarse and more idealized.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Revault d’Allonnes, Fabrice. Gertrud de Carl Th. Dreyer. Crisnée, Belgium: Yellow Now, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This elegant book-essay focuses on the musicality and the bridge-like structure of Gertrud, linking the latter to both classical tragedy and modern music. It probes the similarities of Gertrud to the musical forms of the lied and the quartet, both present within the film itself. The book contains a documentary appendix and a long section of frame enlargements from the film, juxtaposed to suggest (rather than explicate) its visual rhythms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Rosenbaum, Jonathan. “Gertrud: The Desire for the Image.” Sight and Sound 55.1 (1985): 40–45.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The essay builds carefully toward an analysis of Gertrud “as non-narrative.” Rosenbaum discusses the tension between the many camera movements and the strong impression of stasis conveyed by the film, arguing that it reflects the film’s refusal to solve the riddle of Gertrud’s character through the normal process of cinematic storytelling, thereby placing itself beyond the reach of any kind of mere biographical interpretation. Reprinted in Jonathan Rosenbaum, Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Schamus, James. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Gertrud: The Moving Word. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not an analysis of Gertrud as much as an exploration of a single image: the tapestry in the film that shows a nude woman attacked by dogs. From this single detail, Shamus constructs an elaborate network of relationships with other images. While stimulating as an interpretive tour de force, the book suffers from its reliance on the conceptual framework of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Its argument for Dreyer’s “sadism” is worth pondering.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jesus and Other Unrealized Projects

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After Vampyr, Dreyer made only four features in thirty-five years, but he was continuously working on ambitious film projects for which he conducted enormous amounts of research but which were fated to remain unrealized. The most famous of these is the Jesus film project, discussed in Bordwell 1972. Dreyer’s screenplay for this has been published (see Cornfield 1972, cited under Screenplays), and Drouzy and Nannestad Jørgensen 1989 has made available the sixteen-year-long correspondence between Dreyer and the American impresario Blevins David, who paid Dreyer $15,000 to write the screenplay, which Davis was supposed to produce. Although little came of Davis’ promise to raise money to make the film, Dreyer clearly felt obligated to the man who had made possible his eight-month stay in the United States in 1949–1950 to research and write the screenplay for this dream project, at a time when his financial situation was extremely precarious. Before embarking on the Jesus project, Dreyer had begun working on a film about Mary Stuart, the 16th-century Scottish queen. Dreyer kept working on the project, described in Thomson 2015, until the late 1950s.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bordwell, David. “Passion, Death and Testament: Carl Dreyer’s Jesus Film.” Film Comment 8.2 (1972): 59–63.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The article presents a succinct commentary on Dreyer’s most famous unrealized project, a film about Jesus. While the screenplay and other documents contain very little information about camerawork or the like, Bordwell shows how they suggest a de-dramatized, understated approach, and it is clear that Dreyer wanted the film to be marked by authenticity in its details, placing the biblical events within the everyday human reality of 1st-century Judea.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Drouzy, Martin [Maurice], and Lisbeth Nannestad Jørgensen, eds. Letters about the Jesus Film: 16 Years of Correspondence between Carl Th. Dreyer and Blevins Davis (Sekvens: særrække). Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, Department of Cinema, Television, and Communications, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This volume prints the full surviving correspondence—more than 250 letters and telegrams— between Dreyer and the American impresario Blevins Davis. The correspondence is extensively annotated and is introduced with an essay by Lisbeth Nannestad Jørgensen chronicling the sad, twenty-year-long story of Dreyer’s failure to get the project realized.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Larsen, Lisbeth Richter. “Projects.” 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A listing of unrealized projects from Dreyer’s whole career, with links to scripts, more detailed treatments, original documents, etc.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Thomson, C. Claire. “History Unmade: Dreyer’s Unrealised Mary, Queen of Scots.” Kosmorama 260 (2015).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The article examines Dreyer’s Mary Stuart screenplay and extensive surviving research material; Thomson has also conducted archival research in Scotland, where Dreyer went on several occasions. The article shows the massive effort Dreyer put into the project. Thomson discusses the project using Siegfried Kracauer’s skeptical account of the historical film (see Kracauer 1960, cited under Dreyer in Film Theory), which he did not regard as fundamentally cinematic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Short Films

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dreyer wrote and directed a number of informational short films for institutions of the Danish government, which commissioned the films through the governmental short film agency Dansk Kulturfilm. Kimergård 1993 and Thomson 2016 both examine all these films, Kimergaard focusing on the commissioning and production of them, while Thomson also discusses their aesthetics. Both conclude that in terms of both work process and final result, Dreyer was not committed to these films the way he was with his own feature films.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kimergård, Lars Bo. “Kortfilm som redningsplanke.” Sekvens (1993): 97–122.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In Danish. Based on a great deal of archival research, this article succinctly sets out the production circumstances of each short film project. The article is mainly documentary and offers no aesthetic analysis. It argues that Dreyer’s attitude to the work, while conscientious, did not have the kind of personal investment he had in his features and did not demand total artistic control in the same way.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Thomson, C. Claire. “‘Education, Enlightenment, and General Propaganda’: Dansk Kulturfilm and Carl Th. Dreyer’s Short Films.” In A Companion to Nordic Cinema. Edited by Mette Hjort and Ursula Lindqvist, 78–97. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The article discusses the activities of Dansk Kulturfilm, using Dreyer’s shorts as the primary example. All the films are briefly but succinctly discussed; their most notable aesthetic features are described in the context of Dreyer’s feature films, but they are also examined as instances of “useful cinema,” emphasizing their place within a larger institutional framework importantly different from theatrical fiction filmmaking.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Films about Dreyer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Two documentary films about Dreyer were made during his life, both featuring extended interviews with him. In his Carl Th. Dreyer (Roos 1966), Jørgen Roos, who had worked with Dreyer on several government-sponsored short films in the late 1940s and early 1950s, allowed Dreyer a considerable say in how to discuss his films; Dreyer wrote out his comments beforehand, speaking from a script rather than answering off the cuff. In Eric Rohmer’s entry on Dreyer in the series Cinéastes de notre temps (Rohmer 1965), on the other hand, the interviewer poses more abstract, theoretical questions, which Dreyer answers in a stubbornly literal-minded way. The actors interviewed by Rohmer tell some enlightening anecdotes, some of which the same actors retold thirty years later when interviewed for Torben Skjødt Jensen’s visually bold Carl Th. Dreyer: min métier (Skjødt Jensen 1989). This 1995 film, dark and brooding where Rohmer’s film is playful, was made to mark the centenary of cinema and has imposed itself as the foremost Dreyer documentary. It is stylistically distinctive in a way few filmmaker portraits are, even if some critics have charged it with putting suggestiveness and atmosphere ahead of an ability to inform and have questioned how well Skjødt Jensen’s baroque visuals fit Dreyer’s inner world. Skjødt Jensen’s images provide a very definite interpretation of Dreyer’s character, and the imperious delivery of actor Henning Jensen, who reads from Dreyer’s writings on the soundtrack, is of a piece with the film’s vision of Dreyer as a haunted, fanatically uncompromising genius rather than with the Dreyer we see in filmed interviews, always soft-spoken and self-effacing. During the 1980s three other films appeared; the first two were focused on the revelations about Dreyer’s infancy in Drouzy’s biography (see Drouzy 1982, cited under Books). Erik Frohn Nielsen’s The Cinema of Carl Th. Dreyer (Frohn Nielsen 1982) provides melodramatic reenactments, but it is otherwise quite traditional; it suffers from an overreliance on Drouzy’s sometimes unconvincing interpretations of the films. Michelle Porte’s À la recherché de Carl Theodor Dreyer (Porte 1987) is much more austere, using only a few (but quite lengthy) film clips and no talking heads at all. Tom O’Horgan’s and Elsa Gress’ fictionalizing Balladen om Carl Th. Dreyer (O’Horgan 1989) was made to mark the centenary of Dreyer’s birth and featured a large cast and extensive reenactments; but it was met with derision because of its ham-fisted script and tone-deaf performances. None of the three 1980s films has been reissued on home video, and they are quite difficult to find.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Frohn Nielsen, Erik, dir. The Cinema of Carl Th. Dreyer. 1982. Denmark. Two parts, 60 min. each.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This privately produced documentary, narrated by Max von Sydow, was based on the Drouzy 1982 biography (cited under Books). Part 1 focuses on Dreyer’s parentage (using somewhat melodramatic reenactment scenes); Part 2 goes through the films one by one, with clips (without music for the silents) supplemented with stills and stock footage. The films are interpreted according to Drouzy’s thematic-biographical approach. Talking heads include Drouzy and Dreyer’s daughter Gunni.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • O’Horgan, Tom, dir. Balladen om Carl Th. Dreyer. 1989. Denmark. 76 min.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Made by Danish television, this biographical film relies heavily on reenactments to dramatize Dreyer’s life. It is structured on a conversation between Dreyer (played by Erik Mørk) and an inquisitive, chuckling writer (played by Ulla Jessen) based closely on the novelist Elsa Gress, who wrote the script and interviewed Dreyer during the last years of his life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Porte, Michelle, dir. À la recherche de Carl Theodor Dreyer. 1987. France. 55 min.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Made for French television, this sober biographical documentary is closely based on Drouzy’s 1982 biography (see Drouzy 1982, cited under Books), reproducing many of the documents relating to Dreyer’s childhood that he discovered. It focuses particularly on showing the places where he lived and worked, accompanied by a male voice reading Dreyer’s autobiographical note (see Drouzy 1982, cited under Writings) and a female narrating voice. Includes many still photographs, few clips, and no talking heads.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rohmer, Eric, dir. Cinéastes de notre temps: Carl Th. Dreyer. 1965. France. 60 min.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This TV documentary stresses Dreyer’s Danish roots at the outset, but it shifts to focusing more on Dreyer’s working habits. An interview with Dreyer in his apartment in Copenhagen is supplemented with interviews with actors Lisbeth Movin, Bendt Rothe, and Preben Lerdorff Rye, Danish Film Museum director Ib Monty, and documentary filmmaker Jørgen Roos. In stylized shots evoking Dreyer’s filmmaking, Anna Karina reads from Cahiers du cinéma extracts from Dreyer’s writings. Available as a supplement to the BluRay box set Carl Theodor Dreyer (Paris: Potemkine Films, 2017).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Roos, Jørgen, dir. Carl Th. Dreyer – 1889–1968. 1966. Denmark. 30 min.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Made by the governmental producer Dansk Kulturfilm but unavailable until 1989 because of licensing issues. Apart from footage from the Paris premiere of Gertrud in 1964 with enthusiastic comments from French film personalities, this is mainly a long interview with Dreyer, talking about the style of many of his films; the lighting of the shots varies to suggest the style of the particular film Dreyer is talking about. Available as supplement to the DVD editions of Vampyr (Criterion Collection in the United States; Masters of Cinema in the United Kingdom).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Skjødt Jensen Torben, dir. Carl Th. Dreyer: Min métier. 1989. Denmark. 96 min.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shot entirely in black and white, with extensive use of bold multiple-exposure effects and talking heads in dramatically lit and posed images, this independently produced documentary presents Dreyer’s career chronologically, passing quickly over the silent film period; the later films are illuminated through interviews with surviving cast members. The film is tied together by quotations from Dreyer’s writings, mostly expressing his artistic ideas, though often divorced from their original context. Available as a supplement to the Carl Theodor Dreyer DVD box set (New York: Criterion Collection, 2001) and the BluRay box set The Carl Theodor Dreyer Collection. (London: BFI, 2015).

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