Ordet (The Word) (1954)

Ordet (The Word) (1954)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Criterion Collection


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
Henry Skjaer
as Doctor
Hanne Agesen
as Karen, a Servant
Edith Thrane
as Mette Maren
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Ordet (The Word)

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (3)

The film is extremely sensual in its spareness, a paradox always at the center of Dreyer's work.

Full Review… | April 10, 2016
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Both emotionally and intellectually the picture is hypnotic, and some portions will nail the spectator to his seat.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

A strange, wondrous and shocking work. Once seen, it's unlikely to leave you.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A sombre exploration of religious faith in all its various guises, directed by Dreyer with a quiet but deep seated compassion for his characters.

Full Review… | April 10, 2016

It's simply a masterpiece.

Full Review… | April 10, 2016
Radio Times

The film unfolds in a confined space but there is nothing constrained or contained in its searching, intense approach and nothing dogmatic about its approach to its subject.

Full Review… | April 10, 2016
The Age (Australia)

Audience Reviews for Ordet (The Word)


one of the most intense film experiences of my life, even tho it's fairly easy to tell what will happen from the very beginning. amazing

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


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 Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Could very well be the saddest movie I've ever seen, but at the same time uplifting and inspiring. Like most Carl Dreyer films it takes a while to get to the point, but the trip is so worth it. The film is beautifully shot, with slow fluid camera movement that totally sucks you in. And like most of Dreyer's films, the performances are amazing. Dreyer had a way of getting strong, emotionally honest portrayals out of his cast. Every touch, every tear, every smile, every display of love, anger or grief, feels completely real. The tragic events -- as well as the joyous ones -- left me reeling emotionally. I've seen it twice now (6 years apart), and my reaction was exactly the same both times -- I wept uncontrollably. This film is that powerful. This film, along with Dreyer's equally devastating PASSION OFJOAN OF ARC, is proof that Carl T. Dreyer was a genius.

Cindy I
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

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