Thursday, March 25, 2021

Carl Theodore Dreyer month concludes: Ordet


It's a surprise, considering its subject matter, that Ordet  (The Word) is the only one of Carl Theodore Dreyer's films that was both a financial and critical success. In Sight and Sound's 2012 poll of the greatest films of all time, this film was ranked 19th by film directors, and it's a film about the conflict between evangelical and mainline churches.

The film is based on a 1925 play written by Kaj Munk, a Danish Lutheran pastor who was martyred during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. It tells the story of Morten Borgen (Henrik Malberg), a rich farmer and patron of the local Lutheran church, and his three grown sons. (The set-up of a patriarch with three grown sons is classic, used in The Brothers Karamazov, Bonanza, and, of course, My Three Sons.)

Morton’s eldest son, Mikkel (Emil Hass Christensen) has abandoned the faith of his father but his believing wife, Inger (Birgitte Federspiel), is convinced her husband will eventually find God. The second son, Johannes (Preben Lerdorff Rye), believes he is Jesus Christ. He often wanders from the family farmhouse to preach to the animals in the fields. He is said to have gone mad from excessive amounts of Soren Kierkegaard (“It’s all that studying that turned his head,” says one member of the family.) The third son, Anders (Cay Kristiansen), is in love with Anne (Gerda Nielsen) whose father, Peter (Ejner Federspiel), is the pastor of the local free church. Neither father approves of the union because of the theological differences between the two families.

Morten goes to Peter to discuss the future of their children. When they enter, Peter’s house church (called "The Poor House") is meeting, and people are sharing stories of how their lives changed when they trusted Jesus as their Lord. When the service ends, Morten approaches Peter about getting down to business.

They send Anders and Anne (with Anne’s mother) to the kitchen for coffee while the men talk. (Sidenote - there is a lot of coffee drinking in the film. At one point, Morten says, “We must have coffee, coffee, from real coffee beans.” There is also a big focus on pipe smoking. Early in the film, Inger readies Morten’s pipe. He’s surprised at how well she performs the task, and Inger tells him, “There’s nothing I can’t do.” Morten then tactlessly responds, “Except have sons.”)

Morten and Peter argue theology. Peter asks Morten what bothers him about his church, and Morten says it’s the call for conversion. He also finds Peter’s church too grim, “Do you know what the difference is between your faith and mine? You think Christianity is sullenness and self-torment. I think Christianity is the fullness of life. My faith is for all day long and joy in life. Yours is the longing of death. My faith is the warmth of life. Yours is the coldness of death.” 

I found this little speech quite puzzling because I found Morten to be a joyless, petty man.

While he's at Peter’s house, the phone rings. The call is for Morten. He learns that the pregnant Inger has become very ill. Peter tells Morten he hopes Inger’s illness will lead Morten to trust Christ. 

Morten says, “Do you want Inger to die?” 

Peter says, “If that’s what it takes, yes.” 

Morton goes home to find that their doctor (Henry Skjaer) and the local pastor are already there.

The Lutheran pastor (Ove Rud) is new to the church. Inger had told Morton, “His sermons are good.” 

Morton had responded, “As long as it doesn’t take him too much time to get to Amen.” 

This pastor had a rather awkward encounter with Johannes. When Johannes told the Pastor he was Jesus, the pastor asked him to “prove it.” 

Johannes tells the pastor, “People believe in the dead Christ, not the living one.” 

The pastor tells Johannes, “Miracles no longer happen.”

As Inger struggles with illness with her husband, Mikkel at her side, their daughter waits with Johannes. Johannes tells the girl that her mother will die, but he will bring her back from the dead. The girl seems to take comfort from these words.

Inger loses the baby (a son), but the doctor thinks Inger will be okay. So Morten, the doctor, and the pastor relax at the dining table (with coffee and pipes, of course), and the doctor kids Morten, “Since Inger is out of the woods, I can tease you. What do you think did her more good; your prayers or my care?” 

The doctor worries he may have offended the pastor, but the pastor assures the doctor he doesn’t believe in miracles, “God won’t break the physical laws He established.” (In his book, Miracles, the apologist C.S. Lewis has a wonderful response to this argument: natural laws are His laws and He is free to amend them as He wishes.)

Just after the pastor and the doctor leave, Mikkel comes from her room to tell his father that Inger is not out of the woods. She has died. The doctor is humbled. Morten and Mikkel are crushed.

And then, three miracles take place. (Inger had once said, “I believe a lot of little miracles happen secretly.” But these are not little miracles.)

First, Peter comes to the Borgen farm and asks for Morten’s forgiveness. “We should have not have let our theological differences come in the way of happiness for our children.” He offers Anders Anne’s hand, so she can take Inger’s place in the household.

Second, Johannes, who had been missing since Inger's death, returns. When Morten looks at him, he rejoices and says he can see that sanity has returned to his son’s eyes.

Third, Mikkel and Inger’s daughter comes to Johannes and asks if he will raise her mother from the dead (as he had previously said he would). After the funeral service led by the pastor, Johannes tells Inger to rise up. This greatly upsets the pastor who considers the call blasphemous. Morten and Mikkel are, in their grief, very upset. But the look on the young girl’s face conveys she just considers it right. And Inger comes to life again.

There are real problems with the moribund faith of Morten’s church and its pastor, as there are real problems with the judgmental nature of Peter’s house church. But the way they come together at the film’s conclusion earns them a collective Movie Churches 3 Steeple Rating.

NOTE: This film provides a nice transition to the topic of Movie Churches in April: Miracles.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Carl Theo. Dreyer Month Continues: Day of Wrath

Day of Wrath (Vredens Dag)

I find it interesting that so many popular depictions of the witch trials of centuries ago portray witches with supernatural powers. Quite recently the Marvel/Disney show Wandavision had a flashback to the Salem witch trials, but instead of innocent citizens dealing with charges of black magic, we saw a supernatural battle between powerful witches. Television shows like Bewitched, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and movies such as I Married a Witch, Bell, Book and Candle, Hocus Pocus, and The Lords of Salem all featured the Salem witch trials along with “real” witches.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a surprisingly rare story where accusations of witchcraft are completely unfounded. For the most part, the same can be said of Carl Theodore Dreyer’s 1943 film, Day of Wrath. Rather than taking place in New England, this film is based on witch trials in 16th century Norway. Though the charges of witchcraft are assumed to be without basis, witches' curses in the film to tend to be carried out. 

Day of Wrath
was produced in very difficult, even dire, circumstances. After the completion of Vampyr in 1932, Dreyer was unsuccessful in raising funds for a film adaptation of Madame Butterfly, a work about Mary Stuart, or a documentary about Africa. Dreyer worked as a journalist and was unable to work as a filmmaker for over a decade. Day of Wrath was filmed in Denmark while the nation was under Nazi occupation, and some were concerned that the witchcraft theme in the film would be perceived as a critique of the Reich’s treatment of the Jews, but the film was completed and released. Dreyer took the opportunity of the film’s foreign distribution to travel to neutral Sweden, where he lived for the remainder of World War II.

The film is set in a small Danish village in 1623 where Rev. Absalon Pedersson (Thorkild Roose) lives with his young wife and his mother. The Reverend is old enough to be his wife’s father -- which becomes all the more apparent when his son returns to the village. His wife, Anne (Lisbeth Movin, who bears quite a resemblance to Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame) and his son, Martin (Preben Lerdorff Rye), are the same age and the attraction between the two is immediate. The attraction is noticed by the pastor’s mother, Merete (Sigrid Neiiendam), who already dislikes her daughter-in-law.

One night an old woman, Herlofs Marte (Anna Svierkier), comes to the parsonage, and Anne answers the door. The woman asks Anne to hide her, saying she is being pursued by some who wish to kill her. Anne hides her, and others from the village come to the door saying they are looking for a witch. They break in and find Herlofs and take her to the local church where she is imprisoned as a witch.

Rev. Pedersson is sent to talk to Herlofs Marte and seek her confession. Herlogs Marte is naked from the waist up, due to her recent torture by other church authorities. Pedersson asks Marte whether she has been dealing with the devil, “Did you sell your soul for eternity?”

The pastor tells her she must confess to the Lord to be saved. Marte looks with disdain at the pastor, “Stop your prattle! I fear neither heaven or hell! I fear only death. If I burn at the stake, so will Anne!” Marte says that Anne’s mother was accused of being a witch, and she knows that the pastor intervened so that he could marry Anne. She begs the pastor to save her as well.

The pastor claims to be only interested in saving Marte’s soul, “Have no fear, God is merciful! He will forgive you for your sin!”

But Marte, denounced by three worthy citizens who claim she cursed people who died, is sent to the stake to be burned to death. As she burns, Marte cries out that Anne is a witch. But the roar of the flames drowns out her accusation.

But the curses Marte made in life seem to continue to have power after her death. She cursed the Bishop who sentenced her to death. That bishop becomes ill, and Reverend Pedersson is at the man’s bedside as he dies.

Things grow worse for the Reverend. The attraction between his son and wife grows into an affair. He confronts his wife who admits to the affair, and she verbally attacks her husband, accusing him of stealing her life, even failing to provide her with a child. She tells him she had long wished him dead. And following her words, Absalon seems struck by a heart attack or stroke and dies on the spot.

Absalon’s mother accuses Anne of being a witch, so she too must go to trial. One assumes her fate is the same as Marte’s: torture and death at the stake. Anne won’t even deny that her curse caused her husband’s death.

The church in this film tortures women and burns them at the stake. That alone would likely lead to a poor Movie Churches Steeple rating for the clergy and church of Day of Wrath, but one other detail insures the lowest rating of One Steeple for the church. When Herlofs Marte is burned at the stake, a choir of young boys is brought to stand near the fire to sing a hymn (“Day of Wrath”) as the flames engulf the old woman. That has to be the worst Christian Education program we at Movie Churches have ever seen.

Monday, March 15, 2021

In Theaters Now! Church People

Church Peopl
e (2021)

Mike Lindell, the man who founded the MyPillow company, is a lightning rod of controversy. In recent months, he was honored by then-President Trump. After the election, Lindell made statements about Democrats stealing the election. Lindell was, and probably will be forever linked with the January 6th rioters. This is all rather sad because Lindell founded MyPillow with some worthy goals, such as providing employment for ex-convicts and people looking to overcome addictions, but now Lindell is a villain to the political left and a hero to the political right. In an introduction to the new film, Church People, Lindell talks about the importance of bringing people in the church together, but it seems quite unlikely that at this time he's someone who could bring people together.

Also, considering the number of people that were in the theater the night we attended Saturday night, it's unlikely that Lindell will be widely known as a movie producer anytime soon, though he was executive producer for the new Christian comedy. (Lindell also plays a bit part in the film. Sharp eyes may spot the Mike Lindell bobblehead on the senior pastor's desk, but no one will be able to miss the MyPillow product placement.) Though we saw the film in a movie theater, it hasn’t been widely released but has had limited showings through Fathom events

Church People wants to be a satire of the gimmicks and stunts found in seeker-friendly and mega-churches. Since I served many years in youth ministry, I'm pleased to report that the hero is a youth pastor. Thor Ramsey plays youth pastor Guy Sides (it’s difficult to decide whether the actor's name or the character’s name is more unlikely). Ramsey's in his 50’s, and his character is asked if he isn't too old for his job. Guy responds, “Youth pastor means I minister to youth, not that I’m young!” The fact is that most (though not all) successful youth pastors are in their 20’s or 30’s. The people who stay in youth ministry longer than that tend to do a good job of recruiting and training other staff and or volunteers. In this film Guy seems to be running the youth group practically solo, in spite of taking a lengthy book tour as “America’s Youth Pastor.” (this title seems peculiar -- he seems to have only a couple dozen members in his youth group in a megachurch of thousands. I don’t see why he would be so acclaimed. 

Pastor Sides seems quite awkward with people, especially women. A woman who seems to recognize him comes into his office while he's talking with a student, and he tries to figure out why she's there -- is she the parent of a student? Does she want to be a volunteer? He scrambles to find a volunteer form in his desk as the woman is obviously amused that he doesn't recognize her.  (The film’s initial title was Youth Group. In spite of this, the youth are mostly anonymous and minimally involved in the story.)

Turns out she's Carla Finney (Erin Cahill), the daughter of the senior pastor. For the past ten years, she's been a missionary in Molvania (not a real country) and she's just returned home after a broken engagement. 

I would assume the church would have supported Carla, so I was baffled Guy wouldn’t recognize her -- even after an unlikely absence of ten years. Before long, he and Carla are dating and having quite intimate conversations with her in front of the students in the youth group (which is -- obviously -- quite unprofessional) The students are surprisingly invested in the relationship between Guy and Carla (they are quite disappointed when they don’t kiss in front of them). 

Carla’s father, Pastor Skip Finney (Michael Monks), is also overly involved with his daughter’s love life. He tries to set her up with Tino (Joey Fatone) who seems to have the singular profession of church soloist. He is a simple (dim) man, which is why Skip thinks he’ll be “safe” for his daughter. No one in the film seems to think it might be okay for Carla to be, um, maybe, single. Everyone seems very concerned that she should be in a relationship and not waste time going back to the mission field. 

Pastor Skip has what he believes are big plans for his church. He tries to bolster attendance by using BMX riders on the stage behind him while he preaches. He challenges the congregation to raise attendance by saying if a bar is reached, he will have the church logo tattooed on his bicep at the end of a service. But his biggest stunt is planned for Good Friday. He decides to crucify someone on stage in the Good Friday worship service. Since none of the staff agree to be crucified (even though they -- probably -- won't be killed), he recruits a high school student, Blaise, a new believer. (Fortunately, the ‘G’ rating assures audiences they won’t really witness a crucifixion in the film.)

Pastor Guy is outraged that Skip is taking advantage of one of his students, and the majority of the film is Guy’s attempt to prevent Blaise (Clancy McCartney) from having nails hammered into his hands and feet.

The only really competent person who works at Sand Hills Neighborhood Church is head greeter Chad Chase (played by Stephen Baldwin. It’s a double Baldwin film with Billy Baldwin playing Blaise’s father.) Chase knows the names of most of the members of the congregation and is aware of their needs. He genuinely seems to care about other people, which seems out of the wheelhouse of the pastoral staff, which is focused on numbers and influence. (Guy does give lip service to concern for the Gospel and his students, but he doesn’t really seem to be very good at his job.)

This is why we are giving Sand Hills Neighborhood Church and its staff a mere two steeples for its Movie Churches rating.

We weren't crowded in the theater. 
Mindy channels her inner inaugural Bernie.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Carl Theodor Dreyer: A Bite of Danish


It’s rather interesting to look through history and see how many vampire films were made by world-class directors. A lot of classy directors keep their distance from the horror genre. 

Kurosawa didn’t make any Godzilla films. Scorsese hasn’t made a wolfman film. Orson Welles never made a mummy film. In spite of this, many of cinema’s great directors have made vampire films.

The first (and only) film to win the 19227/28 Oscar for Best Picture: Unique and Artistic Production was Sunrise directed by F. W. Murnau -- who also directed 1922’s Nosferatu, which many still consider the greatest vampire film ever made. The Godfather and The Godfather II are often mentioned in conversations of the best films of all time, but years later Francis Ford Coppola directed Bram Stoker’s Dracula (which, ironically, I found to be quite far from the Stoker novel). Before Kathryn Bigelow got her Oscar for The Hurt Locker, she made 1987’s Near Dark; before Guillermo del Toro got his Oscar for The Shape of Water (which, to be fair, is a Creature of the Black Lagoon film), he made the vampire film Chronos. Other acclaimed directors who have made vampire films include Roman Polanski (The Fearless Vampire Killers), Chan-wook Park (Thirst), and Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows).

In other words, it isn’t surprising that this month’s Movie Churches director, the Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer, made a vampire film, Vampyr, which is now regarded as one of the greatest of vampire films. (As for me, I don’t think it holds up nearly as well as Nosferatu, but it is interesting.)

Dreyer began work on Vampyr soon after completing his masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Dreyer went to England to learn how to make sound films. While there, he observed films dealing with the supernatural and said, “We can jolly well make this stuff too.” So he made a sound vampire film, but the use of sound is quite minimal. There isn’t much dialogue and title cards are used as in silent movie days.

Vampyr tells the story of Allan Grey (played by Julian West), inexplicably called “David” on the title cards of the version of the film I watched), a man who visits the small town of Courtempierre where strange things are occurring. He stays at the manor of Der Schlossherr (Marice Schultz), who gives Grey a mysterious package and tells him not to open it until his death. Der Schlossherr has two daughters, Léone and Giséle. Léone has been suffering of a mysterious illness. 

 Not long after that that Schlossherr is murdered. Grey opens the package to find it is a book on Vampirism.

Grey and the servant of the manor suspect that the cause of Léone’s illness is vampirism. They investigate the strange goings-on in the village, and Grey goes to an old castle where shadows act independently. A soldier with a peg leg finds he has to rearrange how he sits, so he will match his shadow. On the wall, a party of shadows carries on with a band and dancing, though no party-goers are actually present.

Léone leaves her bed and tries to make her way to the castle but is brought back by Grey and Léone’s nurse. The old town doctor who cares for Léone, though, is not what he appears to be. He is in league with a vampire and the peg-legged soldier.

The doctor brings poison to kill Léone so she will be condemned to everlasting damnation. It is interesting theology -- those who are bitten by vampires and who die under a vampire’s spell will be damned -- but I’m afraid I see no biblical or theological basis for this.

You’ll note there has been no mention of a church or clergy. The film is also surprisingly lacking in crosses. In Tod Browning’s Dracula, which came out the year before this film, crosses played an important role. Most vampire films made after Dracula feature crosses, but not this one.

If you look at almost any summary of the plot of Vampyr, including the one found in Wikipedia, there is no mention of a nun. But Léone’s nurse (Jane Mora) sure looks like a nun. She has what looks like a nun’s habit, but a little research shows that since nursing became a secular profession, they often kept the accouterments of nuns. They were even called nursing sisters. So was Léone’s nurse a nun or just a nurse that wore a nun’s garb? Whichever. This nurse sits day after day by her patient’s bed, obviously pained by her patient’s pain and rejoicing in her patient’s recovery.


Throughout the history of Christendom, the church provided a steady stream of dedicated nurses to care for people, so it’s possible the nurse in this film was a nun. It’s just as possible she was a nurse, but not a nun -- a secular professional in the traditional dress of nuns, in honor of that Christian heritage. Either way, it’s a good legacy for the church found in this film. So, just in case it is a nun in this film, she gets our best rating of Four Steeples. If she wasn’t a nun, we at Movie Churches are sorry for wasting your valuable time.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Carl Theo. Dreyer Month: Not Looking Bad for a Centenarian...

The Parson’s Widow

There are some strange laws in the United States that involve churches. In Alabama, it's illegal to go to church wearing a fake mustache that makes people laugh. In Omaha, it is illegal to burp in a worship service. In the West Virginia county of Nicholas, clergy are not allowed to tell jokes in the pulpit. (Considering the jokes I have heard some preachers tell, I could get behind this ruling.) In today’s film, there is a bit of church polity that is even more bizarre than these strange laws, and this church regulation provides the basis for the film. In this small Norwegian village, the new pastor must marry the old pastor’s widow.

The Parson’s Widow (1920 - Prästänkan) is the second film directed by Carl Theodore Dreyer. It’s a silent film, of course, and is in some ways primitive to the modern eye. But it is also clever, funny, wise, and --after more than a century -- still a joy to watch. (And it's available free on Youtube. You may well want to view the film before we spoil the film for you here, so we'll wait right here until you come back.)

Ready? Great.

This film tells the story of Söfren (Einar Röd), a young pastor seeking his first parish. He faces an added pressure in that his fiance, Mari (Greta Almroth), has been forbidden by her father to marry him until he is hired by a church. Bells ring to call the congregation to hear the candidates for the role of pastor.

Söfren has two rivals for the post, both rich seminary servants from Copenhagen. The candidates make no effort to hide the resentment they have toward one another. But the first candidate is a bore and his sermon on the creation story from Genesis puts the congregation to sleep.

The second candidate is a buffoon, and Söfren makes things worse for the man by sticking feathers in the man’s collar so they stick out over his head as he preaches on "Balaam's ass and God's strange power by which He was able to open the jaws of a dumb animal so that it might speak like a man!" The congregation laughs at the man throughout the service.

When it is Söfren’s turn to preach, he goes straight after the two other candidates, “Now, two learned applicants have appeared here before me. One of them took us to Eden, and that is as far back as we can go. Let him stay there! The other chose the text: ‘Am I Not an Ass?’ But what has an ass to do on the pulpit? My friends, I will not take you to Eden -- you are too clever. But I will take you to the bowels of the earth, deep in the roaring jaws of Hell!” The congregation seems quite enthused by Söfren’s fire and brimstone preaching.

In the evening the townspeople and the three candidates attend a feast where the church pastoral committee announces that Söfren has been chosen as pastor. The committee spokesman also announces that Margarete Pedersdotter (Hildur Carlberg), the widow of the previous pastor, has exercised her right to demand that her husband’s successor marry her. Though all the candidates seem to be in their 20’s, the widow is quite obviously in her 70’s at the least. The relief on the faces of the two candidates not chosen is unmistakable.

Söfren is shaken but quickly covers his feelings. He agrees to go with the widow to her home for dinner. Margarete asks Söfren whether he is engaged to anyone, and he quickly assures her he is not. (Integrity is not a strong suit for Söfren.) She serves him herring which looks delicious to him (but not so tasty looking to the staff of Movie Churches). He feels odd after eating it and agrees to spend the night at the widow’s house rather than return to his room at the inn. He wakes in the morning to find a new suit laid out for him, which he puts on. He goes downstairs to find breakfast laid out for him, more herring, bread and butter and morning schnapps. Drinking so early in the morning gives Söfren a bad case of Schnapps goggles, and the widow appears to be a beautiful young woman, rather than the reality, a woman who could easily be his grandmother. That morning, he agrees to marry the widow.

When Söfren goes to see Mari, he has some explaining to do. At first, he tells her the widow may have cast a spell on him -- she's rumored to be a witch.  He thinks an enchanted herring affected his judgment. He then rationalizes that he needs to marry the widow or he won’t have the job as a pastor. And if he doesn’t have the job, he can’t marry Mari. If he marries the widow, she’ll die soon enough, and he will still be pastor and they can then be married.

So Söfren does marry the widow and becomes the pastor of the church. He notices at the wedding ceremony that his bride has four wedding rings on her finger already. He learns that she has outlived four pastor husbands.

He tells Margarete that Mari is his sister and asks if she may live with them. (A lie as old as Abraham and Isaac.) She agrees but sends Mari to a dreary room in the basement and the lovers find little time to meet together.

Söfren finds that the servants of the house treat him and Mari quite rudely and he confronts Margarete about the matter, saying, "In the future, I suggest you and your companions be less high and mighty. For I am master of this house."

Margarete summons one of the servants, an imposing, bearish man. She commands the servant, "Master Söfren is too big for his boots. Give him a drubbing!" The servant easily throws Söfren against the wall. Margarete advises her husband: "I suggest you concentrate on prayer and sermons. Do not play master here. I am master of this house!"

Some time passes and Margarite doesn’t die, and Söfren longs for Mari, but can rarely have time alone with her. One day, Mari has an accident, breaking her thigh bone. Margarite tenderly cares for her in the weeks the young woman is kept in bed. The two women become friends. It is then that Margarite shares a secret: her first husband had been forced to wed the former parson’s widow, and Margarite had to wait years until she could marry the man she loved. And after he died, she “was passed along like furniture” from one parson to the next. Mari and Söfren admit to Margarite that they're in love and want to be married. 

Not long after, Margarite does die. But Mari claims that Margarite made her a better wife, and Söfren claims that she made him a better pastor. This lying, backstabbing man had much room for improvement as a pastor, and that's why he only earns a Movie Church rating of Two Steeples.

Monday, March 1, 2021

There Ain't Nothin' Like a Dane

Van Morrison sang, “Want a Danish?” but we don’t have to ask.

We know that everyone here at Movie Churches wants posts about the great Danish director, Carl Theodor Dreyer. Born in Copenhagen in 1889, he began his career in silent films in 1913 writing title cards for Nordisk Film and went on as a scriptwriter and editor. He directed his first film in 1919 and kept directing for 45 years. (He was unable to get financing for what would have been his final film, from his own script, about the life of Jesus.) Dreyer died in 1968 in the city where he was born.

His films are known for their “stately” (i.e., slow) pacing and emotional austerity (i.e. dry), but they are also critically acclaimed. He explored such themes as social intolerance, the inevitability of death, and the power of evil in the world. Just the kind of escapist fun we’ve come to expect from Scandinavia. Best of all (as far as we’re concerned) his films often feature churches and clergy, and that’s really all we care about around this blog.

We will be watching the films of Dreyer this month, but here’s a look back at his most acclaimed film (which was featured in Maid of Orleans Month) The Passion of Joan of Arc -