For Reel

Gertrud (1964)
October 4, 2016, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
4 Stars
gertrud“I feel as though I’m staring into a fire about to be extinguished,” reflects the now aged Gertrud (Nina Pens Rode), a woman whose search for a very specific type of love ultimately left her with nothing but memories. This sequence, set twenty or thirty years after the action of the film, has a palpable sense of deathliness—if Getrud spent the entirety of the film being of the moment, in this scene all she has left is remnants of the past, which she calls to mind like faded photographs. The simple closing of a door becomes an action that represents spiritual transcendence, either a moment of hopeful grace or tragic loss depending on the viewer. Director Carl Theodor Dreyer is not keen to make such decisions, rather revels in the complexities of his characters and situations. The key to this understanding is Gertrud herself, who is both a worthy martyr and a deeply flawed romantic. She becomes so obsessed with an unattainable ideal that she makes everyone, including herself, miserable by the end. Gertrud is equal parts intoxicating and frustrating on a first viewing—while Dreyer’s minimalism is not to be mistaken for a lack of complexity (the shifting balances of the characters within the frame is itself a remarkable game of power), the film has the feel of a mausoleum. And yet this doomed tone services an unforgettable evocation of the most haunted of memories, where Gertrud’s conquest and the way she illustrates her free will being the cause of her eventual isolation.

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: