Ordet (1955)

Ordet is another one of those films that is on all those list of great film lists it is by Carl Theodor Dreyer who also directed The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film is based on the play of the same name by Lutheran minister, Kaj Munk , it won Bodil Award the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was honored at the Golden Globes as Best Foreign Language Film in 1955 and it is one of the film on the Vatican list of films. Spoilers to follow.

The film doesn’t really have a plot it is a look at the life of the Borgen’s family farm. Morten, a prominent member of the community has three sons. Mikkel, who has no faith; Johannes, who went insane studying Soren Kierkegaard and believes himself Jesus Christ;  and Anders, who is smitten with the daughter of the tailor who is the leader of another sect. Mikkel is married to Inger who is pious and they have two daughters Inger is also pregnant with another child. Johannes isn’t the best as he wanders off condemning the lack of faith in the town and the world in general. Anders goes off to Peter, the tailor’s house, to ask for his daughter, Anne’s hand in marriage but this request is refused as Anders isn’t the same faith as the Tailor and his family. While this is happening Inger is trying to convince Morten of this engagement, it doesn’t go over well.

Anders returns home with the sad news and Morten changes his mind and he and Anders go to visit Peter and find out why he refused. Peter tries to get Morten and Anders to join his sect. While this is taking place Inger goes into a difficult labor, Mikkel calls informing Anders and Morten about what’s happening and they come rushing home, but not before Peter wishes that Inger die so that Morten will see the error of his ways and join his sect. When Morten and Anders return home they do not get great news the child is dead and Inger isn’t in great shape. Now things turn south here as death returns  and takes Inger, this is the turning point of the film as everyone is affected. Johannes wanders off and on the day of the funeral Peter apologizes to Morten and agrees to the proposal. Johannes returns and says that if the family only had faith and asked God to raise Inger from the dead it would happen. One of Inger and Mikkel’s daughters has the faith to ask for this to happen and Johannes agrees to do so. Inger begins to stir and everyone rejoices at the resurrection and Mikkel claims that he has found his faith.

This film seems like it would be something great to watch during Lent as it deals with faith and features a death and resurrection. It isn’t the most quick paced film but it is a nice change of pace from any modern film. Ordet is the one film from Dreyer that was both a critical and financial success. I would agree with all those talking heads that place it as one of the greatest films ever and if you ever get the chance to watch this to take the two hours and sit with the film and digest it.

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