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aka - The Word
Denmark 1955
Directed by
Carl Theodore Dreyer
126 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars


Based on a play by Lutheran minister and Nazi victim, Kaj Munk, Ordet (a title which translates as 'The Word') is a remarkable film about spiritual and religious faith.

Morten Borgen is the devotedly religious patriarch of a farm run by his two sons, Mikkel, an agnostic who is married to the good-hearted Inger, and Anders, a young man in love with a girl from a neighbouring farm whose fundamentalist Lutheran father refuses him because of his more religiously lenient family. A third son, Johannes, has had a mental breakdown whilst studying to be a pastor and believes he’s Jesus Christ. When Inger becomes desperately ill in childbirth the different belief systems are brought into conflict.

Many viewers will see a communality with Ingmar Bergman’s intellectual explorations into the nature of faith but Dreyer’s conclusion is radically different from anything Bergman ever arrived at. It is a testament to Dreyer’s mastery of his material and the intensity of his austere style that the extraordinary ending of the story seems entirely acceptable. Ordet is a masterpiece from a director who surprisingly was neither brought in the Lutheran faith nor was particularly religious but who tackled questions of the spiritual life in a unique way.




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