Ordet (The Word)

1954

Ordet (The Word)

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,317
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Ordet (The Word) Photos

Movie Info

With his masterful Ordet (aka The Word, [1955]), legendary Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer examines the conflict between internalized personal faith and organized religion. Dreyer sets the drama in a conservative, super-pious Danish town, where widower Morten Borgen (Henrik Malberg) -- the father of three boys -- cuts against the grain of the community with his constant heretical doubt. One of his sons, Mikkel Borgen (Emil Hass Christensen), is entangled in an interfaith romance with a fundamentalist's daughter, while the second, Anders Borgen (Cay Kristiansen), is an agnostic, and the third, Johannes Borgen (Preben Leerdorff-Rye) -- a devotee of Søren Kirkegaard -- believes that he actually is Jesus Christ -- a conviction ridiculed by almost everyone as pure insanity. Also known as The Word, Ordet was the only film that Dreyer made in the 1950s. The author of the play on which the film was based (and which was previously filmed in 1943) was Kaj Munk, a Danish pastor murdered by the Nazis for daring to announce his fidelity to Christ over Hitler. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Henrik Malberg
as Morten Borgen
Emil Hass Christensen
as Mikkel Borgen
Preben Leerdorff-Rye
as Johannes Borgen
Cay Kristiansen
as Anders Borgen
Ejner Federspiel
as Peter Skraedder
Ove Rud
as Vicar
Edith Trane
as Mette Maren
Susanne Rud
as Lilleinger
Gerda Nielsen
as Anne Skraedder
Sylvia Eckhausen
as Kirstine Skraedder
Hanne Agesen
as Karen, a Servant
Edith Thrane
as Mette Maren
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Critic Reviews for Ordet (The Word)

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (26)

Audience Reviews for Ordet (The Word)

  • Jun 27, 2011
    In a little danish farming community, the word of Jesus Christ is debated and preached between rival classes of townfolk. Although all are christian, the debate concerns who the "real" christians are and which are truly following the word of Jesus as it should be followed. On one side of the feud is the Borgen farm, with it's elderly father of three sons, all of varying degrees of faith. Eldest son Mikkel is an agnostic whose pragmatic view of the world borders on blasphemy. Johannes, is opposite his brother, believing himself to be the lord Jesus reborn on earth (the youngest son, Anders, really only serves as means of connecting the feuding factions, in a manner similar to "Romeo and Juliet"). Away from the farm, in the village community, a new christian order has arisen where once there was none. Led by the town tailor's family, they celebrate the Christ of damnation and death. The lord of all the dead, the lord of the pious members of the community. There is a rivalry between the elder farmer and the tailor that might extend beyond just religion, as the tailor engages in a bit of class envy as well. While the farmer condemns the townsfolk for their "doom and gloom" christianity, his own faith seems to be only of the lip-service kind and hardly light-hearted and cheerful. He paces about, ringing his hands and cursing his bad luck in life, as he bades his children (well, the ones who aren't Jesus) to pray with him for blessings that never come. The family consider Johannes a burden, and none of them ever actually listen to the things he has to say. Johannes was studying theology until exposure to the philosopher Kierkegaard caused him to have a mental breakdown. What does all this add up to? As Johannes exclaims, these christians have so much faith in a dead christ, and the ancient word, but none know living Jesus nor apply his word to their lives (the following lyrics are quoted from one of the christian hymns: "none knoweth the day before the sun goeth down, Good morning good morning sings the bird on the bough, it saw the evening sun behind the prison wall, at dawn the flowers curtsied sweet-scented, by evening they lay crushed under a storm of hail, small children played often in the red glow of morning, by evening they lay on the coffin still and dead"- it's death they worship, not life). "Ordet" began its existence as a play written by a pastor who was condemned to death by the nazis. In the hands of filmmaker Carl Dreyer, it becomes not just a celebration of the living christ, but a celebration of life in general. Life and spiritualism and the notion that the two go hand-in-hand. Closing our eyes and ears to the life that goes on around us, to our family and friends, forsaking these moments so that we might honor ancient words in some brittle text, is not the way to spiritual enlightenment, nor should it be. What one loves in Christ, one must also find in the eyes of a child, or in the warmth of family. We were not put on this earth to celebrate death and sadness.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 29, 2010
    A broad, deep, challenging film, but my least favorite of Dreyer's works that I've seen thus far. I thought it was poorly paced and long-winded. The parts are there, but the composition is all wrong.
    Drew S Super Reviewer
  • May 13, 2010
    Interesting how directors like Angelopoulos and Tarkovsky are often credited as the auteurs that influenced Béla Tarr when, ironically, Ordet is an unparalleled masterpiece of insightful religion discussion set in times of intolerance and lack of faith. Also, it surpasses any Tarr project (perhaps except for Sátántangó). This is not necessarily an attack towards religious people, but rather it questions directly, in an ethereal manner, the true motivations behind those that carry an emotionless life and make up their inner void with banalities and materialistic illusions. Moral of the film (only true Christians will understand the implications of the ending): Jesus Christ brought to us the greatest gift He could ever offer to mankind, and He resides in the heart of those who accept Him. We were invited to see how people saw the Son of God back in the 1st Century; doubt alone brings complete destruction to a non-believer, even for those that masquerade their words, acts and Biblical knowledge with hypocritical ignorance and undeniable atheism. Only Dreyer could make such a controversial magnum opus in such an early era, misunderstood by the time and underappreciated now. 100/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 26, 2010
    The ending was too easy.
    Tom S Super Reviewer

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