By James Schamus
If there's one movie within the canon of Carl Theodor Dreyer that may be stated to be, as Jacques Lacan may well placed it, his so much "painfully enjoyable," it's "Gertrud". The film's Paris most advantageous in 1964 was once lined by means of the Danish press as a countrywide scandal; it was once lambasted on its unlock for its lugubrious velocity, wood performing, and out of date, stuffy milieu. purely later, whilst a more youthful iteration of critics got here to its defence, did the strategy in what Dreyer's insanity start to turn into obvious. To make vibrant simply what was once at stake for Dreyer, and nonetheless for us, in his ultimate paintings, James Schamus specializes in a unmarried second within the movie. He follows a path of references and allusions again via a couple of thinkers and artists (Boccaccio, Lessing, Philostratus, Charcot, and others) to bare the richness and intensity of Dreyer's paintings - and the thrill which may accompany cinema stories while it opens itself as much as different disciplines and media.Throughout, Schamus can pay specific cognizance to Dreyer's lifelong obsession with the "real," constructed via his perform of 'textual realism', a realism grounded now not in normal codes of verisimilitude yet at the strength of its rhetorical attract its written, documentary assets. As achieve this some of the heroines of Dreyer's different motion pictures, resembling "La ardour de Jeanne d'Arc" (1928), "Gertrud" serves as a locus for Dreyer's dual fixations: on written texts, and at the heroines who either embrace and unfastened themselves from them.Dreyer established "Gertrud" not just on Hjalmar Soderberg's play of 1906, but additionally on his personal large study into the lifetime of the 'real' Gertrud, Maria van Platen, whose personal phrases Dreyer interpolated into the movie. through the use of his movie as a type of go back to the genuine lady underneath the textual content, Dreyer rehearsed one other lifelong trip, again to the terrible Swedish lady who gave delivery to him out of wedlock and who gave him up for adoption to a Danish relatives, a mom whose lifestyles Dreyer in simple terms came upon later in existence, lengthy after she had died.
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Additional resources for Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word (McLellan Books)
The image of the woman attacked by the hounds is first a kind of dream image, and then becomes embodied as artistic production—and in both texts this takes place Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, ed. Vittore Branca (Turin: Einaudi, 1980), 420–26. 45 46 at a big banquet. But whereas in Boccaccio the theatrical spectacle of maiden- At l a st , h ere’ s Dreyer’s p roba ble s o u rc e — b ut d o e s it m atter th at we fo und it? murder is first envisioned and then impressarioed by a man and leads directly to the theatrical spectacle of marriage, in Gertrud it is a woman who sees the spectacle first, as interior vision, only to be confronted by it again in the form of scenic decoration.
Dreyer’s final work fits perfectly into this understanding. Gertrud is “theatrical” precisely in order to be “real”: putting the play’s text into the foreground is not simply a stylistic preference for Dreyer but a way of preserving that text’s link to the reality Dreyer always sought as his greatest goal. One odd consequence of this absolute fidelity to the idea of the primacy of the text is the concomitant erasure it performs of the text’s author. In Gertrud, Söderberg’s play is a way station to an even more “real” source, as Dreyer André Bazin, What is Cinema?
Sandro Botticelli, Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (first panel), Museo del Prado, Madrid. Reprinted by permission from Erich Lessing, Art Resource, New York. she rushes from right to left. In the next panel, as she lies prostrate in the foreground, her entrapment is again depicted, in a kind of flashback, in the background, as she moves from left to right. Boccaccio’s narrative, as a temporal unfolding, envisions the perspectivally organized space as containing multiple narrative instances; the story does not simply bridge our movement from one panel to the next, as if, in a proto-cinematic montage, Botticelli were editing his images by linking scene to scene.