By James Schamus
If there's one movie within the canon of Carl Theodor Dreyer that may be acknowledged to be, as Jacques Lacan could positioned it, his such a lot "painfully enjoyable," it's "Gertrud". The film's Paris most suitable in 1964 used to be lined by way of the Danish press as a countrywide scandal; it was once lambasted on its unlock for its lugubrious velocity, wood performing, and out of date, stuffy milieu. in simple terms later, while a more youthful new release of critics got here to its defence, did the tactic in what looked to be Dreyer's insanity start to turn into obvious. To make vibrant simply what was once at stake for Dreyer, and nonetheless for us, in his ultimate paintings, James Schamus specializes in a unmarried second within the movie. He follows a path of references and allusions again via a couple of thinkers and artists (Boccaccio, Lessing, Philostratus, Charcot, and others) to bare the richness and intensity of Dreyer's paintings - and the thrill which may accompany cinema stories while it opens itself as much as different disciplines and media.Throughout, Schamus will pay specific cognizance to Dreyer's lifelong obsession with the "real," constructed via his perform of 'textual realism', a realism grounded no longer in typical codes of verisimilitude yet at the strength of its rhetorical attract its written, documentary resources. As achieve this the various heroines of Dreyer's different movies, corresponding to "La ardour de Jeanne d'Arc" (1928), "Gertrud" serves as a locus for Dreyer's dual fixations: on written texts, and at the heroines who either embrace and loose themselves from them.Dreyer established "Gertrud" not just on Hjalmar Soderberg's play of 1906, but in addition on his personal huge examine into the lifetime of the 'real' Gertrud, Maria van Platen, whose personal phrases Dreyer interpolated into the movie. through the use of his movie as a type of go back to the genuine lady underneath the textual content, Dreyer rehearsed one other lifelong trip, again to the terrible Swedish lady who gave start to him out of wedlock and who gave him up for adoption to a Danish kin, a mom whose lifestyles Dreyer purely found later in existence, lengthy after she had died.
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Additional resources for Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word (McLellan Books)
Indeed, in the final epilogue, when Axel visits the aged Gertrud and asks why she has never responded to his letters, her answer is to hand back the letters, and, quoting von Platen, to reprimand him for having written with a typewriter. Nygren responds by throwing the letters in the fire. ” This Carl Theodor Dreyer, Oeuvres Cinématographiques 1926–1934, ed. Maurice Drouzy and Charles Tesson (Paris: Cinématheque française, 1983). André Téchiné, “La parole de la fin,” Cahiers du cinéma 164 (March 1965): 72.
Now both she and he are condemned to the hell of repeating this scene every day—he as punishment for his suicidal blasphemy, she as punishment for her cruel and unfeeling heart. So Nastagio goes home and decides to stage a feast in the forest, to which he invites the young woman and her family to dine, right on the spot where he had seen the vision. Sure enough, the scene is replayed at the appointed hour, but this time Nastagio’s cruel young love interest looks on. Thematically, we are on ground very similar to Dreyer’s.
Sandro Botticelli, Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (third panel), Museo del Prado, Madrid. Reprinted by permission from Erich Lessing, Art Resource, New York. down to better our view of the action. And, in the final panel, Botticelli moves the action to a hall or loggia, whose architecture reinforces a rigorous perspectival centering, and where the only remnants of the forest are the decorative wreaths that adorn the pillars. Civilization replaces nature; marriage orders and structures the sexualized violence of the wilds.
Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word (McLellan Books) by James Schamus