I know it’s a bit early, but consider this fair warning to mark your calendars and stock up on pre-orders: September will be Carl Theodor Dreyer month for cinephiles. In addition to the cable retrospective scheduled by Turner Classic Movies, Image Entertainment have just announced their long-awaited DVD restoration of one of Dreyer’s best and most rarely-seen films, The Parson’s Widow (1920), to be released September 21. Don’t let its year of production fool you–its playful narrative, enticing dose of macabre humor, and philosophical sophistication might convince someone it was made years (or decades) later than it actually was.
From Image’s site:
One of the world’s greatest directors, Carl Theodor Dreyer has long been hailed for such masterpieces as The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Day of Wrath and Ordet. Now we meet a different Dreyer who engages with broad humor, then gradually guides to a wise, bittersweet resolution. . . . Called “the first real Dreyer film,” The Parson’s Widow (aka The Witch Woman) prefigures key themes in his later work. Beautifully photographed in the 17th-century museum village of Lillehammer, Norway, the film’s original luminous quality is captured in this digitally mastered edition from a 35mm camera-negative print. Plus two rare Dreyer shorts! They Caught the Ferry (1948, 12 mins.) adapts the technique of Dreyer’s horror/fantasy Vampyr to a chilling and unforgettable miniature on driver safety. Thorvaldsen (1949, 11 mins.) uses the long lenses and confrontational style of The Passion of Joan of Arc to illuminate the search for truth in the work of the greatest Danish sculptor, which turns out to have a surprising affinity with Dreyer’s own cinema. All three films digitally mastered from 35mm archive prints. The Parson’s Widow is speed-corrected and tinted, with new music compiled by Neal Kurz from the works of Edvard Grieg.
I’ll wait to write about these films in depth, but in the meantime, check out Acquarello’s comments on The Parson’s Widow and plenty of other Dreyer films here at his site, Strictly Film School.