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Denmark 1925
Directed by
Carl Theodor Dreyer
95 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Master Of The House

Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent film, based on Svend Rindom's stage play, is remarkable for its socially enlightened view of the lot of married women in a patriarchal society (although the opening title card tells us, presumably ironically, in countries other than Denmark).

The story is a simple morality play in which Victor (Johannes Meyer) a failed businessman so bullies his young wife (Astrid Holm) and children that, at the behest of her mother and Victor's elderly nanny (Mathilde Nielsen) who are keen to teach him a lesson, she leaves him. The nanny takes over the household and sets about reforming Victor who, surprise, surprise, is no match for her. Victor comes to his senses, his mother-in-law buys him a new business and they apparently will live happily ever after.

Although a substantial film for the time and commercially successful in its day it is now primarily of historical interest, particularly to students of Dreyer, whose most lasting films were yet to come, its relatively naturalistic style and sensitivity to the female worldview being characteristics that mark the director’s work in general.




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