Day of Wrath

Critics Consensus

Beautifully filmed and rich with period detail, Day of Wrath peers into the past to pose timelessly thought-provoking questions about intolerance and societal mores.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 25

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,455
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Day of Wrath Photos

Movie Info

Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's Day of Wrath (Vredens Dag) is set in 1623 Denmark, where Anne Pedersdotter (Lisbeth Movin), the second wife of a Danish pastor, grows to loathe her husband for his self-asceticism and instead falls in love with the minister's son - with whom she spends an inordinate amount of time. Locals overhear her wishing aloud for her husband's death; when he dies of a stroke not long after, she is accused of witchcraft, a charge taken seriously enough to be punishable by death. Eventually, the poor woman is tortured and traumatized to such a point that she actually believes she is a witch - and she gives in to being burned at the stake. Yet Dreyer then shifts the perspective from internalized - illustrating the woman's paralyzing fear - to externalized, a point of view that enables the director to depict his subject's spiritual purification. Even allowing for the aura of raw terror, Dreyer never loses sight of the eroticism inherent in the concept of witchcraft. Based on a play by Wiers Jensen, Day of Wrath was filmed during the Nazi occupation of Denmark and not released abroad until after the war, and the director reportedly had to flee his native country when he angered the government with the film's political content. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Thorkild Roose
as Absalon Pedersson
Lisbeth Movin
as Anne Pedersdotter
Sigrid Neiiendam
as Merete Absalon's Mother
Albert Høeberg
as The Bishop
Olaf Ussing
as Laurentius
Anna Svierkier
as Marte Herlof
Sigurd Berg
as Kapellmeister
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Critic Reviews for Day of Wrath

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (9)

  • Dreyer's impious, anarchic drama is a cry of rage at abusive authority, whether political, familial, religious, or moral; he celebrates erotic love as the natural order of things.

    Feb 22, 2016 | Full Review…
  • However bleak, Day of Wrath is a masterpiece. See it.

    Oct 23, 2008 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Aug 28, 2008
  • 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.

    Aug 28, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 25, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 19, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Day of Wrath

  • Feb 18, 2013
    Day of Wrath is an amazing Carl Th. Dreyer drama, and is my favorite film set in the medieval ages. The film is centered around two scandals, a cover up and a love affair. Both weigh equal value to the film just at different times. I think the greatest part of this film, despite being from the 1940s and set in the 1600s, is that I strongly relate to the family in it. Not a character, or even the situation, but I felt like I had something to share with all four of the family members. I felt all of there emotions, even the seemingly heartless ones. It's brilliantly filmed, and is technically flawless. Filled with depth and marvelous technique, this is undeniably a classic.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 2012
    Brilliant and a truly brave piece of work given the fact that Dreyer had to flee Nazi Denmark as a result of the content of this film. A classic morality play.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 26, 2010
    [font=Century Gothic]"Day of Wrath" takes place in 1623 when Herlofs Marte(Anna Svierkier) is suspected of being a witch and that is just as good as being guilty and burned at the stake. At this point, the only thing the authorities are concerned with is the state of her soul. So, she makes a break for it, ending up at the household of Anne(Lisbeth Movin), whose mother was herself denounced as a witch but was released on the testimony of the Reverend Absalon(Thorkild Roose), Anne's much, much older husband. In fact, his son, Martin(Preben Lerdorff Rye), is older than she is. Herlofs Marte is soon discovered and tells Absalon that if she burns, she won't be the only one...[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]It may be odd that 15 years after Carl Theodor Dreyer made "The Passion of Joan of Arc, " that he would return to similar territory with "Day of Wrath," which is a haunting movie about religious hypocrisy, the attitude towards women and the ignorance of the time period. Absalon did the right thing by letting Anne's mother go but it was so very wrong to covet her in the bargain. That event sets up the tragic circumstances of the movie, particularly the near incestuous relationship between Anne and Martin.[/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 23, 2010
    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.
    Drew S Super Reviewer

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