Michael (1924) - Rotten Tomatoes

Michael (1924)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Filmed in 1924 by the brilliant Danish director Carl Theodore Dreyer, the German drama Michael (Mikael) was released in the U.S. three years later under the more lurid title Chained. It was subsequently reissued as The Story of the Third Sex, an unsubtle allusion to the plotline's homosexual subtext. Fellow director Benjamin Christensen stars as "The Master," a world-renowned painter. Celebrated for his portrait of a "beautiful" young male art student named Mikael (played by a slim, 22-year-old Walter Slezak), the Master graciously accepts the plaudits of his acolytes. Inwardly, however, he is tormented by his strong, passionate feelings for Mikael. Ironically, both men have a falling out over the affections of a woman (Nora Gregor) -- and when The Master dies, Mikael is accused of his murder. It turns out that the old artist actually died of natural causes, but Mikael is condemned in the court of public opinion for turning his back on The Master during his last days on Earth. Astonishingly, Chained was dismissed as "junk" by the reviewer for the trade magazine Variety, who felt that the film would have been better if Michael had murdered The Master in actuality rather than symbolically. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Herman Bang
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 14, 2004


Nora Gregor
as Princess Zamikoff
Grete Mosheim
as Alice Adelsskjold
Didier Aslan
as Duc de Monthieu
Alexander Mursky
as Mr. Adelskjold
Karl W. Freund
as Leblanc arl dealer
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Michael

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (2)

A dull piece of work, redeemed only by some artistic scenes and Benjamin Christensen's able portrayal of Claude Zoret, an artist.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Illuminated by extraordinary reserves of feeling

Full Review… | March 13, 2010

As drama, the characters remain too distant to offer the warmth needed for Dreyer to convey that love in its purity conquers all in the end.

Full Review… | July 27, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A truly fascinating film with just the tiniest hint of the greatness yet to come.

Full Review… | January 15, 2005
Combustible Celluloid

Minor Dreyer film but the ending makes it worthwhile.

December 20, 2004

Audience Reviews for Michael

Wonderful early-period Dreyer film that has something of the great stoicism of his last, Gertrude. That is especially apparent in the figure of the master painter Zoret (an excellent performance by Benjamin Christensen) who is fighting with great patience against the circumstances and the personality of Michael in order to achieve this 'true, perfect love' he believes in, that consists in unconditionally giving everything to its object (some kind of irrational Kierkegaardian 'leap of of faith' in terms of love). The visual aspect of the film is really good, with excellent and unusual lighting for its time (like having a lonely figure in the foreground unlighted while the background is bathed in light) that sometimes drowns every corner of the richly decorated house in darkness. There are two triangles in the film, the second being always in the distant background but helps enriching the tapestry of the high society of the age. An amazing scene involves the two mutually attracted people one of which -the woman- is married, while they pass, in front of her husband, to each other a sculpture of a naked woman, which symbolically becomes the medium of their suppressed mutual desire. The desire becomes apparent to the viewer through a close up that shows how their fingers touch the sculpture (this is a purely and truly cinematic effect that literature cannot achieve). There are some tracking shots even which is a rarity in silent films, like the one following one of the couples in the countryside (one of the few shots outside the stuffed house). Of course, the pinnacle of Dreyer's silent period remains The Passion of Joan of Ark, but this is also a film that deserves attention -even if it is not quite as great- for its wonderful performances, the ecxellent mood and the to-the-point symbolisms as well as its inventiveness in character presentation (such as the dinner scene in the beginning in which we learn each character's personality by his attitude to the concept of death) and beautiful visuals. Recommended.

George Matalliotakis
George Matalliotakis

Super Reviewer

A bore. The most unsatisfying of CTD's most well known pieces. Maybe this one needed a religious slant.

Richard Cranium

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