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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gertrud (1964)

In early 20th century Sweden, a woman (Nina Pens Rode) tells her husband (Bendt Rothe), a rising politician, that she is leaving him for another man (Baard Owe). But love isn't always a smooth road. Based on the 1906 play by Hjalmar Soderberg and directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer in his final film. Considering how fluid most of Dreyer's films are (VAMPYR, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, DAY OF WRATH), GERTRUD is surprisingly static and uncinematic. I've not read Soderberg's play but it comes across as faux Ibsen, specifically A DOLL'S HOUSE. Dreyer uses long takes with the actors barely moving and acting so stiffly that you'd swear they all had metal rods up their asses. For a film where love is the central motif, it's bloodless and lacks passion. As Gertrud, Rode delivers her lines in a monotone that she seems to be reading them off cue cards! I've not seen any of these actors in other films so I don't know if they were directed that way or they're just lousy actors (Rothe is particularly terrible). The material might have worked with more intense actors and I could see Bergman doing it with members of his stock company like Harriet Andersson and Erland Josephson. The film does have its fans though (like Jean Luc Godard). With Ebbe Rode and Axel Strobye.

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