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Denmark, 1943 (MIFF 1959, Programme 21)

Director: Carl Dreyer

Carl Dreyer, creator of Jeanne D'Arc and the fantastic Vampyr, is that very rare person in films today — a moralist, classicist, and an incorruptible artist. From the novel by Anne Pedersdotter, this dark, sombre story of witchcraft in seventeenth century Denmark. Day of Wrath, is an example of his impeccable technique, told with all the humanity and power of Dreyer's art.

Absalon Pedersson. Pastor, signs the decree for the trial of the peasant woman. Marthe. The suspected witch takes refuge with his young wife. Anne. whose mother was saved from a similar accusation. Marthe is found, and burnt following a forced confession. Meanwhile, a new strength comes to the previously restrained Anne when she falls in love with her stepbrother, Martin. She defies the contempt of her mother-in-law and. in her anguish. wishes Absalon dead. The Pastor is distressed to the point of self-torture, and he dies of a seizure. admitting that he wronged Anne in marrying her.

Each point in the film is calculated (the faintly ticking clock behind the scene when Absalon is comforted by his mother) and the characters emerge dramatically. Camera and lighting probe the recesses of suffering. The strong individuality. of Drever's work is evident as each scene proceeds with a majestic slowness natural to its self-revelation.

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