Film

Film

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Completist Dreyerians cannot live by Criterion discs alone—Image does DVD justice to cine-history with the restored release of this 1920 masterwork, the first film by Danish heavyweight Carl Theodor Dreyer to embody his signature wisdom and formal rigor, and in virtually every frame. The story, from a tale by reformist Norse clergyman Kristofer Janson, entails a young pastor’s confrontation with the tradition of his new parish, which demands that he marry the last pastor’s elderly widow. The Dreyer dawning of humanist awareness is preceded by a thoroughly atypical irreverence; the initial bulk of the movie couldbe taken as Dreyer’s only comedy. Even so, the spatial beauty of the film, often composed like medieval woodcuts, is classically his. The disc’s supplements are the best kind—rare, freestanding shorts, one a sponsored documentary about the 19th-century Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen, the other, “They Caught the Ferry,” a startling and almost wordless PSA about driver safety that intersects with Vampyr and Day of Wrath.