d. Carl Th. Dreyer
Criterion Collection #126
It's funny, but because I'm a criminal defense lawyer I can't watch television shows about crime. I think I'm in much the same situation now with music, I don't actually relax by listening to music- don't even own a stereo actually. I listen to music when I drive and when I run, and occasionally at the office, but I'm not kicking back with a brewski and putting on the latest LP on my turntable. I think that's why I'm so into movies and novels right now, it helps me think about art without having to worry about the business issue that creep into any pure attempt to appreciate music as art. So I'll often think about music or art while watching movies or reading novels- I find it to be a really useful exercise to focus on good examples of the art form, rather then filling my mind with useless garbage- which I don't mind- or didn't mind.
Ordet is yet another good example of a movie I would never have seen without the COMBINATION of Criterion Collection and Hulu Plus but I'm telling you I am FEELING the Northern European cinema of Germany, Denmark and Sweden. I've liked every single one I've come across, and I feel like the Denmark/Sweden access is the opposite of the Japanese films: I shouldn't like them but I do. Maybe because they are so g-d somber, and death obsessed, and because a Danish filmmaker working in 1955 can drop a casual Soren Kierkegaard reference into a film set in rural Denmark in 1925. As one does.
There is no way to describe Ordet that makes it sound appealing- I think it's so funny when I read other Criterion Collection focused blogs and they have these lengthy plot descriptions or in depth analysis of the film makers- um HELLO- the Criterion Collection itself does that for every single film. If you're going to write about the Criterion Collection the focus needs to be on the COLLECTION not the individual films- they are just little pieces of this grand canonization of film that is truly unmatched- certainly in terms of the international scope of it.
But man I LOVED Ordet- and I really dig Dreyer- he makes me want to go to Denmark: between current bands like Iceage and The Ravonettes, the history of existentialism, the movies- all of it Ordet has a crazy ass ending that really gives the feature some oomph- which it needs because the plot elements are: A wealthy farmer, religious faith, a difficult child birth and a son who thinks he is Jesus Christ. Did I mention is set in rural Denmark in 1925? But it all comes together and the end left my jaw on the floor. And I watched the entire film in delight.