Day of Wrath (1948)
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Critic Reviews for Day of Wrath
I'd be saving a spot for it near the top of my 10-best list if the movie hadn't been made 65 years ago.
A stark, brooding treatment of adultery, incest, and murder, an elemental tragedy not so far from a James M. Cain triangle, albeit shot so as to deliberately evoke the Dutch masters.
Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1943 masterpiece begins as a film about seventeenth-century witch hunts in Northern Europe, but it's really a psychological thriller about the pull of evil on weak souls.
Astonishing in its artistically informed period re-creation as well as its hypnotic mise en scene, it challenges the viewer by suggesting at times that witchcraft isn't so much an illusion as an activity produced by intolerance.
Audience Reviews for Day of Wrath
my favorite dreyer film, more ambiguous than 'ordet', and even bleaker. made during the nazi occupation of denmark and it's easy to draw some parallels tho dreyer claimed this was unintentional on his part :P
A Dreyer film to the bone: technically innovative, critical of the dogmatic nature of Christianity, and brimming with fully-immersed, intelligent actors. I think Lisbeth Movin is a little bit unsubtle, but it might also be that she's portraying a woman so overwhelmed with new passion that she can't help but express it against her will. I love the way the movie is lit, and how it interacts dynamically with the characters' discussions of the "fire" in her eyes; she is a fascinating protagonist, repellent and sympathetic at the same time, and the language of the movie seems to reflect our constantly-shifting notions. What she is doing is wrong, but as the text unfurls to reveal a loveless marriage that she was essentially forced into, you cannot help but commend her for salvaging some bit of happiness.
Fascinating work, if not totally groundbreaking in the grand scheme of Dreyer's oeuvre.
Another triumph by Carl Dreyer. A young woman marries a pastor quite a bit older than her. She meets his grown son, and they begin an affair. In the meantime, a neighbor woman who is accused of witchcraft asks the young woman to protect her from the authorities. This story of hypocrisy, intolerance and betrayal should be on everyone's must-see list. However, if you're not familiar with Dreyer's work --- AND WHY AREN'T YOU?!? -- be prepared that it's slow going. But like all of Dreyer's films, it's well-worth the effort of a little patience.
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