Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Denmark, 1955. Palladium Film. Screenplay by Carl Theodor Dreyer, based on the play by Kaj Munk. Cinematography by Henning Bendtsen. Produced by Carl Theodor Dreyer, Erik Nielsen, Tage Nielsen. Music by Poul Schierbeck. Production Design by Erik Aaes. Costume Design by N. Sandt Jensen. Film Editing by Edith Schlussel.
A Danish farmer lives with his three sons on their peaceful, wealthy countryside estate. After a life steeped in life-affirming religious devotion, the one son has turned atheist, the other is in love with a fundamentalist preacher’s daughter, and the third has spent so much time in his theological studies that he has gone mad and now believes himself to be Jesus Christ. The clash of these characters is offset by the generous love provided by the oldest son’s wife, whose impending childbirth provides a crucial turning point in the story. Carl Theodor Dreyer does absolutely nothing to hide the stage origins of this magnificent film, and yet his unobtrusive camerawork is magically able to capture intimacy with very little apparent effort. The acting is impeccable by all, especially Preben Lerdorff Rye as the son with the Jesus Christ complex–his delivery of dialogue is simultaneously creepy and comforting.
The Criterion Collection: #126
Golden Globe Award: Best Foreign Language Film
Venice Film Festival Award: Golden Lion