Carl Dreyer made only a handful of films in his 45-year career, and only four acknowledged sound films: Vampyr, Day of Wrath, Ordet (The Word), and Gertrud. These were independent works, shot mostly with actors unknown outside Denmark, dismissed as perverse and uncommercial and thus poorly distributed beyond Europe. Dreyer’s slow, deliberate, gorgeously lit stories about vampires, witch trials, resurrection, faith, and infidelity were mostly rejected as old-fashioned even when they debuted; and it’s true that he worked in conservative forms like the chamber play, and with demanding stylistic strategies like the long take. But more than any director, Dreyer is sui generis, and his films now appear among the most daring in cinema, with a visionary power that makes them unique.
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