The word

DVD - 2001 | Danish
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A study of spiritual faith and love ; the film tells of the death of Inger in childbirth and her resurrection, a miracle that is seen as the result of human love. The film opens as a family of marshland farmers trail a seemingly mad son (Johannes) who calls himself Christ. It closes as Johannes approaches the open coffin of his sister-in-law and, at the urgings of her child, brings her back to life.
Publisher: [Irvington, NY?] : Criterion Collection, c2001
ISBN: 9780780024250
Branch Call Number: DAN 791.4372 O654d1
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (125 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in
Alternative Title: Word [videorecording]


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Dec 18, 2014

In his previous films, Day of Wrath and The Passion of Joan of Arc (both reviewed here) Carl Dreyer used bold widescreen imagery to explore how religious zeal carries within it the propensity to inflict pain and despair. With Ordet he brings this message closer to home as one stubborn man’s ideological feud with an equally pigheaded neighbour threatens to tear his family apart. Big and colourful patriarch Morten Borgen practices an easygoing form of Lutheranism, believing each day is a call for celebration and wonder. His close relationship with God is based on faith and an unshakeable trust in the inherent goodness of the Almighty. His dour yet prayerful neighbour Peter Petersen, on the other hand, follows a far more conservative path to salvation consisting of modesty and austerity in all things. Rounding out the Borgen household are brothers Mikkel, an avowed agnostic despite the tender ministrations of his pious wife; Johannes, a deeply disturbed theology student now convinced he is the risen Christ after having read Kierkegaard; and Anders, a soft-spoken teenager whose misfortune it is to fall in love with Petersen’s only daughter, the equally demure Anne. Irate over their children’s budding relationship the two fathers ardently split dogmatic hairs in an effort to prove who is closer to God until a wake-up call arrives in the form of a deep personal tragedy; a terrible loss which will shake both men’s faiths to their very cores and expose their heated debate for the inconsequential banter it really is. Always respectful of his characters Dreyer never judges but instead allows them to grow and mature over time. Much like the biblical story of Job, he uses suffering and adversity to seek out spiritual truths whether it’s one man’s quiet acceptance of God’s implacable Will or another’s realization that there is more than one path to redemption. Along the way he manages to insert a few wonderfully wry observations; in one memorable scene a city doctor argues with a country pastor over the importance of science versus spirituality while Johannes’ sullen Christ-like figure wanders by unheeded. Equal parts family drama and religious epic, there is a keen sense of light and symmetry at work here which, along with some languorous tracking shots and highly formalized staging, give the impression of a Renaissance painting come to life. But it is Ordet’s highly contentious final scene that steals the show. Dreyer comes straight out of left field and delivers a miraculous ending so outrageous (and oddly touching) that it not only challenges our own religious convictions but pushes the limits of cinema as an art form to boot.

Jan 13, 2013

also watch SILENT LIGHT ( Stellet Licht) 2007 by Carlos Reygadas

Nov 22, 2010

Exquisite light in the film.

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