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aka - The Word
Denmark 1955
Directed by
Carl Theodore Dreyer
126 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
5 stars


Based on a play by Lutheran minister and Nazi victim, Kaj Munk, Ordet (a title which translates as The Word) is a remarkable film about spiritual and religious faith.

Morten Borgen is the devotedly religious patriarch of a farm run by his two sons, Mikkel, an agnostic who is married to the good-hearted Inger, and Anders, a young man in love with a girl from a neighbouring farm whose fundamentalist father refuses him for his unsuitable family. A third son, Johannes, has had a mental breakdown whilst studying to be a pastor and believes he’s Jesus Christ. When Inger becomes desperately ill in childbirth the different belief systems are brought into crisis.

Many viewers will see a communality with Bergman’s explorations into the nature of faith but Dreyer’s conclusion is radically different from anything Bergman ever arrived at. It is a testament to Dreyer’s mastery of his material and the intensity of his austere style that the extraordinary ending of the story seems entirely plausible. Ordet is a masterpiece from a director who tackled questions of the spiritual life in a unique way.

DVD Extras: Although there is some damage evidence, the transfer from a restored print is of excellent quality. Extras include 2 short films by Dreyer - Danish Village Church and Storstrom Bridge; an interview with Birgitte Federspiel who plays Inger that is taken from Torben Skedt Jensen's documentary on Dreyer, My Metier and an insert essay by film critic for The Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Available from: Madman




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