Director: Carl Th Dreyer

Released: 1964

Featured Actors: Nina Pens Rode, Bendt Rothe, Ebbe Rode




General Impressions & Themes

  • Set around 1900
  • Seeks ‘ideal love’ and examines the institution of marriage (also studies fidelity)
  • Note: the grammar of glances
  • More than in the other Dreyer films, visuals & dialogue are balanced
  • Again, in this film Dreyer prunes the narrative and its presentation…he subtracts
  • Central character is, once more, a woman…she is the primary focus
  • Dreyer’s long interest in the struggle for love and salvation is personified by the social predicament of women
  • In Gertrud, Dreyer reduced his already self-conscious style to basic locations and a gestural, hieratic manner of performance that avoids false pathos
  • No scene numbers in the script, shot/scenes are continuous
  • worked on the script and vision for 30 years
  • People would die for love, would they die for sex?



  • Consider: “what is she attempting?” – “what is she trying to accomplish?”
  • While most women would embrace the opportunity to have a powerful husband, with the comforts that money & power can provide, Gertrud is lonely & wants something else
  • Portrayed through mirrors…a kin to a piece of art in her husband’s collection
  • She is framed in the scene (again, like a painting)
  • She grows in self-awareness through the film’s plot
  • Each man temporarily resolves her issues
  • She gains knowledge through her encounters with men
  • Summary, she is in pursuit of an ideal
  • “Love is all”


  • Dreyer’s style has been pared to its dreamy essence — extraordinarily long takes, a few simple interiors, a handful of characters.
  • Gertrud uses a lot of tracking shots. Because the script isn’t divided into scenes, but more like one unbroken string of action
    • This lent towards fewer takes
    • Only completed one take per day
    • Shot around what would be natural for the actor
    • Actors must be “in their place”


  • As a meticulous film-maker/artist, Dreyer sought to capture Truth with insistence on details
  • For example, the settings, though sparse, contain documentary-like details. The headache pills from Paris are actually headache pills from Paris. When an actor opens a drawer, the drawer contains scattered contents that might be contained in a drawer (for that particular character)
  • Tragedy is the form in which he preferred to place his perspective
  • Dreyer, “I don’t think about the audience when I make a film. My only consideration toward them is that they understand the film.”
  • Dreyer, “What is imperfect, lives. What is perfect is dead and set aside.”
  • Great Dreams are unfolded in silence, people conceal feelings and don’t reveal their raging emotions
  • In artistic films, we want to learn about the emotional experience of human beings

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