Day seventeen: The Parson's Wife (March, 26)

Until now, this week has been dominated by danish and norwegian productions. And it is curious that, for two countries in which there are religious freedom and where only a small part of the population is a regular church frequenter, the three nordic movies that I've seen these past few days bring an important debates about faith, religion, spirituality in the context of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a majority in Norway and Denmark. 

The Parson's Widow (Prästänkan), by one of the most important cineasts from the cinema's early days, Carl Theodor Dryer, is a silent movie from the 1920's and it is astonishing. Of course I was expecting a good movie, but its acid humour and excelente edition for the time got me at the first scene. The story is gripping, with excelent performances. 

The setting is a 17th century Norwegian small vilage. For todays' viewers, it is a doubly historic cinematography, with two different times in the screen - the 17th century portraited by a early 20th century director. And a testimony of the Dreyer's hability as a cineast is that neither looked strange in the flat TV in a very early march morning in the 21th century.

The different colors on the frame did create different atmospheres: morning, night, interior... it is fantastic this kind of detail at that time. The editing is also surprising, with the character's different views. All of this envolved by a good story, that, as I saw in the contemporary nordic movies in this week, is still present today. 

There are, as is usual in the early movies, some theatrical aspects. When Hidur Carlberg  as Dame Margarete appears at the screen for the first time in the movie, for example, she is presented by a subtitle, in a still scene. It is rather beautiful. 

There are an unexpected bonus in this story: a debate around women's place in society and how generations through generations perpetrate habits and prejudices that should have been extinct for ages.  

The Parson's Widow (Prästänkan). Directed by Carl Theodor
 Dreyer. With: Hidur Carlberg, Einar Röd (the guy with the amazing
 expression in the picture above), Greta Almroth. Writer: Carl 
Theodor Dreyer after a story by Kristofer Janson. Sweden, 
1920, 71 min., silent, Black & White (DVD).


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