Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Day of Wrath [Vredens dag] .
Ticket Information: $5.00 at the door
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courtesy of Criterion Collection:
Filmed during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, Carl Dreyer’s Day of Wrath [Vredens dag] is a harrowing account of individual helplessness in the face of growing social repression and paranoia. Anna, the young second wife of a well-respected but much older pastor, falls in love with her stepson when he returns to their small seventeenth-century village. Stepping outside the bounds of the village’s harsh moral code has disastrous results. Exquisitely photographed and passionately acted, Day of Wrath remains an intense, unforgettable experience.
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“Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face. There is no greater experience in a studio than to witness the expression of a sensitive face under the mysterious power of inspiration. To see it animated from inside, and turning into poetry.”
The creator of perhaps cinema’s most purely spiritual works, Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer is one of the most influential moving image makers of all time, his arrestingly spare and innovative approach echoed in the films of Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Andrei Tarkovsky, Lars von Trier, and countless others. After making his mark with such narrative silent films as the provocative Michael (1924) and Master of the House (1925), Dreyer created The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), which, though deemed a failure on its release, is now considered, with its mix of stark realism and expressionism (and astonishing, iconic performance by Maria Falconetti), one of the great artistic works of the twentieth century. For the next four decades, Dreyer would continue to make films about people caught in battle between the spirit and the flesh and to experiment technically with the form. Vampyr (1932) is a mesmerizing horror fable full of camera and editing tricks; Day of Wrath (1943) is an intense tale of social repression, made during the Nazi occupation of Denmark; Ordet (1955) is a shattering look at a farming family’s inner religious world; and Gertrud (1964) is a portrait of a fiercely independent woman’s struggle for personal salvation.
Here is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:
9/28/15 – For those needing an intro to the Danish master of austerity, look no further than Acquarello’s profile of Carl Theodor Dreyer at Senses of Cinema! – link
9/28/15 – “Fantastically restrained love triangle involving a pastor, his young bride, and his son. Throw in cauldrons full of witchcraft and a mother more sexually suspicious than Mrs. Bates, and you’ve got perfection.” Guy Maddin on Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Day of Wrath – link
10/3/15 – In Sight & Sound‘s latest critic poll of the best films of all time, film historian Philip Kemp listed Day of Wrath alongside the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, Max Ophüls’ Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948 film) and other worthy films in his top 10! – link
10/10/15 – “Vampyr, for instance, was one of the most poetic horror films ever made, and Day of Wrath (1943) one of the most terrifying…What Dreyer achieves is the sense that for these sternly Protestant people, whose inscrutable faces conceal great passion, witchcraft was a frightening reality. He does not argue for or against them, but simply, as one critic has said, evokes the dark night of the soul through an intensely physical world.” Derek Malcolm, The Guardian – link
10/12/15 – “Given all the execution by burning in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Day of Wrath (1943), it seems only natural to open a discussion of the film by asking what’s at stake. It’s not just witches. The Danish director’s 1943 tale of forbidden love during Europe’s seventeenth-century inquisition puts many things into the, er, crucible: the soul’s fate, the consequences of extreme repression, even narrative coherence. Dreyer unifies them so masterfully in pursuit of higher truth that Day of Wrath is often classified as his best work.” Darrell Hartman, Artforum – link
10/23/15 – “The two great Danish filmmakers, Carl Theodor Dreyer and Lars von Trier, share an artistic kinship. Women suffer, are tortured and burned at the stake, but even down to individual shots, some of von Trier’s earliest films show traces of Dreyer’s style. The twin geniuses of Danish cinema are juxtaposed here in a tour de force of their work.” Peter Schepelern, “From Dreyer to Von Trier” – link
10/23/15 – “I can’t imagine how it must have felt to sit in a crowded theater, watching Day of Wrath during its original release in 1943. Set in 17th century Denmark, when rising religious fanaticism gave church leaders the authority to execute those of “questionable” morality, the film must have mirrored, much too closely for comfort, the Nazi atrocities being waged just outside the theater door.” Darren Hughes, Long Pauses – link
2/3/16 – Missed our screening of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Day of Wrath last season at Sugar City? The BFI has some ideas of where to start with the spiritually foreboding master of cinematic austerity. – link