17 Great Directors: Carl Theodor Dreyer

“My apprenticeship [at Nordisk Film studio in Copenhagen, Denmark] lasted five years, and I don’t think many have had a better schooling. After all, it’s from the daily grind of making films that you learn the craft.”

What Got This Director Here?
: Passion of Joan of Arc.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Passion of Joan of Arc.

What Did I Watch: Day of Wrath.

Where Does He Fit: Whoever Anna Svierkier is, she gives the performance of a lifetime in Day of Wrath, a terrifying ball of screen presence who looks weary and gets reduced to something even more grim as a result of the cruelty of the trials and misogyny of the town. Day of Wrath is humanistic, but hard edged, with everyone in the town getting a moment of kindness and cruelty to themselves. You cannot really root for anyone even if the institutions that burn people alive are inherently evil, because everything is so flat and rooted in proving the hypocrisies and messiness of old worlds that have translated into Nazism and other totalitarian regimes.


Most Valuable Asset: The human face.
Most Excited For: Ordet.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: The greatest screenwriter, Billy Wilder.


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