Benjamin Christensen's 1922 documentary Häxan is about as much documentary as the first one we watched, but immensely more entertaining for its absurd claims. A history of witchcraft drawing heavily on a 15th century guide for German Inquisitors, Häxan is ridiculous in so many definitions of the word.
Dreyer and a few of his associates on Dreyer.
Torben Skjodt Jensen's documentary explores the master filmmaker's life and work paying homage to the man in content and style. My Metier is fascinating and more than a little frustrating.
Carl Th Dreyer's final film -- though I so wish he'd ever managed to finish his one about the life of Jesus -- abandons the religious themes of his previous work for a conversation of whether love or career are more important in life. A series of conversations. A series of long conversations. Gertrud (1964) represents the end of the downward curve toward static long takes Dreyer took over his career. The film only has about 90 shots, the average length of which is 82 seconds and the longest is nearly 10 minutes. Comparatively, The Passion of Joan of Arc is positively bombastic with it's 3 second average shot length. It's a meticulously staged film, and all the more fascinating for it.
Continuing through the Carl Th Dreyer boxset brings us to 1955's Ordet. Meaning "The Word", Ordet is a deliberately paced look at the faith of small town Danes in 1925, a faith challenged and changed by the actions of a young man who believes himself to be Jesus Christ re-incarnate. It's fascinating in that "what is going on, like for real?" way that Dreyer is so good at. That is, the ability to leave unanswered questions without the lack of answers being so frustrating that the whole exercise becomes tedious (see Picnic at Hanging Rock).
We're digging into a Carl Th Dreyer boxset this week and starting things off with Day of Wrath from 1943. Dreyer made one feature film per decade after The Passion of Joan of Arc -- well, two in the 40's if you count Two People, which Dreyer didn't so maybe we won't either -- and every one of them is a masterpiece that's going to sit with me for a long time.
A rare treat on this week's Lost in Criterion: a film Pat loves and Adam just can't get into. Lars von Trier's feature-length debut The Element of Crime (1984) is a dystopian film so noir-like that it's more like a noir reduction, boiled down until it is thick with rain and contrast. People like it! I'm not one of them.