Sunday, November 22, 2009
ORDET (1955, DENMARK)
Quote #1 from the novel “Invisible” by Paul Auster.
If not for the end, Ordet would not have effected you any more than any other good film you’ve seen over the years.
It is the end that counts, for in the end does something to you that is totally unexpected. And it crashes into you with all the force of an ax felling an oak.
The farmwoman who has died in childbirth is stretched out in an open coffin as her weeping husband sits beside her. The mad brother, who thinks he is the second coming of Christ, walks into the room holding the hand of the couple’s young daughter. As the small group of mourning relatives and friends looks on, wondering what blasphemy or sacrilege is being committed at this solemn moment, the would be incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth addresses the dead woman in a calm and quiet voice. “Rise up.” He commands her. “Lift yourself out of your coffin and return to the world of the living. Seconds later, the woman’s hands begin to move. You think it must be a hallucination that the point of view has shifted from objective reality to the mind of the addled brother. But no, the woman opens her eyes and just seconds after that she sits up, fully restored to life.
There’s a large crowd in the theater and half the audience bursts out laughing when they see this miraculous resurrection. You don’t begrudge them their skepticism. But for you, it is a transcendent moment. You sit there clutching your sister’s arm as tears role down your cheeks. What cannot happen has happened. You are stunned by what you have witnessed. Something changes in you after that. You don’t know what it is, but the tears you shed when you saw the woman come back to life seemed to have washed some of the poison that has been building up inside you.
My thoughts: The preceding passage was the reason I chose to see Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Ordet.
Will my reaction be like Adam Walker (Auster’s character) or like those in the audience who laugh at the unlikely resurrection?
Well, I didn’t laugh and even though I had already read about it in the book, I couldn’t believe Inger (the character in the film) was really going to come back to life. I can’t say my reaction was akin to Adam Walker’s, but the film (based on a play by Danish pastor Kaj Munk) was stirring. I actually felt different than Walker in that it was more than the end, it was the building towards the end. Brother number one’s loss of faith, brother number two’s overdose on Kierkegaard leading him to think he is Jesus of Nazareth and brother number three’s wish to marry a girl whose family's religion is not compatible with his are all important parts that must be understood to even appreciate the ending.
You might find this film a heavy trip, so if you chose to venture through it, you may want to bring along a pint or two of Tuborg for your journey.
Let me move on to a lighter question.
Quote #2 from the novel “Invisible” by Paul Auster
Little by little, you come to understand the library is good for one thing and one thing only; indulging in sexual fantasies.
My thoughts: Well, first I’d like to say-oh no, we’ve run out of time for today’s blog. Topic to be continued at a later date.