|Nina Pens Rode plays Gertrud|
d. Carl Th. Dreyer
Criterion Collection #127
Gertrud spoke to me more profoundly then any other film in the Criterion Collection to this point. That is probably because Getrud is the story of a woman who leaves her husband in a quest for love. She fails. I relate to that because I recently experienced the end of my own 12 year relationship/marriage, and almost every line in Gertrud rang pure and true to my own experience. I'm sure I'll be reflecting on this film for months, if not years to come.
Gertrud is married to a cold, lawyer/politician husband in what I believe to be 1950s Denmark. In the first 15 minutes, she announces that she's leaving, and when he asks why she tells him straight up it's because he is too cold. She falls for a young musicians, but he mistreats her and eventually discloses that he has another woman, and that the other woman is pregnant, and their affair ends even before she is divorced for her husband. An old flame of her makes a play, but she tells him, in no uncertain terms, that she doesn't love him either because he understands nothing of love.
At the end of the film she is alone, 40 years later, and still refuses to compromise on her believe that "love is all" even though her time actually being in love seems limited to about two and a half years out of the 80 or so years that she exists. Gertrud raises alot of issues about love, and specifically about the loss of love, and I found it to be utterly profound and moving. I would have wept if I was the weeping type.
Honestly I don't know if you can really understand love until you've had it and lost it. If you haven't lost love, how can you know it was there in the first place? There are so many types of human relationships- sexual and otherwise that can exist without love it seems like it is entirely possible to live an entire lifetime without experiencing it- unless you have it and then lose it, so you can know that it was there.