The Day of Wrath (1943) – Carl Theodor Dreyer

DK Books’ The Movie Book continues to let me explore the works of Carl Theodor Dreyer, as I dive into the 1943 film, The Day of Wrath. This one is on the What Else to Watch list following my screening of The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Just like Arc, there is a lot of religion involved in this one. Set during the 17th century, the film is set in a Danish village that is undergoing a witch-hunt. With this in the background, we are invited into the home of the local pastor, Absalon (Thorkild Roose).

Absalon lives with a young wife, Anne (Lisbeth Movin), that he married in her youth, taking her without permission. Their home is ruled over by his mother, Merete (Sigrid Neiienedam), who does not care for Anne at all.

Following the death of a woman pronounced a witch, who has a connection to Anne, Absalon’s son from his first wife, Martin (Preben Lerdoff Rye) returns home.

And with it trouble.

Martin is closer in age to Anne than his father, and the two are undeniably attracted to one another. A relationship springs up, kept in secret, But how long will it be kept? And what will befall Anne should it be discovered?

The religion in this film is thick and heavy. And despite the fact that Absalon may have sinned in taking a young wife against her will, it is Anne who is made out to be the real villain of the piece, despite all that she wanted was to feel loved, and be loved.

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It was hard for me to find an ‘in’ to this film, as none of the characters appealed nor could I relate to them. I took real issue with the fact that Anne is treated the way she is. She is not quite vilified, but it gets close, and the close of the film definitely brings up the question of her fate.

This one bothered me due to the fact this poor woman is treated so terribly. Yes, there is blame to be placed on all parties as she is violating the bonds of marriage to be with Martin, but considering that she had no choice, it’s very easy to forgive her.

She is neither given love, nor a child, so when a chance of love finally comes her way, of course she pursues it.

With Merete’s hatred of her, and Absalon’s fate, will she be yet another victim of a witch hunt? Will Martin have accusations of his own or will he stand by her?

It’s not only the story, but there are points with framing and lighting to make Anne look evil. Why is she made to be the baddie?

This one was interesting and even now, after having seen it, I’m still processing it, thinking about it, and deciding what I feel about it. It’s not only the story, but there are points with framing and lighting to make Anne look evil. Why is she the baddie/

And sometimes, that’s what really good cinema does. But don’t take my word for it, pick up a copy of DK Canada’s The Movie Book and find something interesting to watch tonight!

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