Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Danish Kings

Carl Dreyer's 1955 masterpiece Ordet is finally known to me. I've been wanting to experience this small Danish flick for a couple years now. It was rated the 3rd greatest spiritual film of all-time according to the folks at IMAGE. Before this outing, I was aware of Mr. Dreyer primarily for his silent classic, The Passion of Joan of Arc, which is undoubtedly the most compelling silent film I've ever witnessed.

So what of this flick?

The film is relentlessly driven by a love for its characters. I often wonder at the relationship between creator and character. For those who make torture flicks, I find myself pondering what they think of these poor fictional souls they ceaselessly tear apart. Do they hate them, their very form, or are they merely indifferent? In my simple brain, I think every creator should love his/her creation. Few films exude such a felt love as Ordet does.

Besides the ruminations of the plot itself and where it led me, I find myself transfixed by one throwaway line in the film. One of the core characters is a son who has apparently gone mad. He went to school to study theology, and (perhaps?) returned insane, convinced that he himself is Jesus of Nazareth. When asked what it was that turned his brother mad, Mikkel says, "Soren Kierkegaard".

Kierkegaard is thus shoved into the plot as the impetus that drives faith over religion. I read that the director Carl Dreyer was not particularly religious. This cannot be true, in that all his films deal with heavy spiritual themes. But perhaps Dreyer disdained affiliations with the church. So did Kierkegaard.

But I reckon both Kierkegaard and Dreyer were men of faith. Deep faith.

Bringing these two dead Danes into the present day is Mr. Lars Von Trier. Trier has said that Dreyer is his favorite director.

Von Trier infuriated me with his tribute to Tarkovsky at the end of his horrific (truly so) film AntiChrist. But he is also the director that once gave us Breaking the Waves, which holds within its bosom the most complete depiction adulation of grace I have ever encountered in art.

I think there are two types of people: those who seek out truth, and those who hide from it.

For those who seek out that truth, they experience it as "a terrifying good", or a "deadly light". It appears of these three Danes, the first two have focused on the good, while the third sees only the first death in its brilliance.

Mr. Von Trier's next film is called Melancholia. It's about the world being endangered by another planet. Death is coming. Notice how beautiful Trier's nihilistic films are... so pretty, so precious.

Check the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzD0U841LRM

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