Ordet

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mike Broadman, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Just finished watching the Criterion box set of Carl Th. Dreyer's films Day of Wrath, Ordet, and Gertrude. While I enjoyed all, Ordet has been swimming around in my brain.

    The ending has been eating away at me. I'd like to discuss it freely, so let's please not worry about spoilers and be aware of he forum's rules about discussing religion outside the film.

    Up until the resurrection, the movie left the issues of faith very open. That is, no viewpoint was presented as "correct." If anything, the merits of an ideology was measured by its effect on the people who hold it and their familial relationships. Inger is the heroin because her faith is strong but open-minded, as she bears no malice towards her seemingy non-theistic husband or the opposing Christian faction of the tailor.

    The introduction of the supernatural at the very end is jarring. I suppose it's supposed to be. Note that the two responsible for resurrecting her are not only those with purest faith, but also without dogma. I find it interesting that the decision to defend faith was illustrated via the impossible rather than an acceptance of her death (ie, using one's faith to accept a tragedy and move on).

    On the surface, it seems like this ending is a relatively simple praise of faith. However, it doesn't quite come off that way when the reward for this faith is something that is naturalistically impossible. I don't think it's trying to be subversive, but I'm not sure (I do have a tendancy to read too much into things, though).

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    I see it as asking the question that if Christ came back today, would people believe in him? Would people have true faith? Or, like the Jews of the Bible, would we dismiss his presence, demand proof, declare him insane, etc?
    As is written in the Bible, to truly believe is to have the faith of a child. In the mind of the child what adults see as impossible or illogical, they can see in their mind's eye. Children can believe in anything (Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, etc) because they have no reason not to and it's not simply an adult's belief that something CAN occur but we are wracked with doubt about it; but the clear and firm belief that the desired event WILL occur or DOES exist, no ifs, ands, or buts.
    Remember, in Ordet, it is through the faith of the child that the miracle occurs.
     
  3. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    The idea of him actually being Jesus crossed my mind, but he also was supposedly "cured" before the resurrection. That is, he didn't refer to himself as Jesus.
     
  4. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    As always, in films of this complexity, I’m never sure if I know anything (or if I managed to get through as many layers as the filmmaker intended). Still some random thoughts (and I may have more).

    Not to disagree, Brook, because I think that one of the questions raised by Dreyer is just that: how would Christ be viewed today? But, I would submit that this film is about the nature of faith itself.

    We have multiple kinds of faith presented: on the surface a fundamentalist one as seen in one family and a more liberal interpretation by another. And within the family, we range from skepticism (or agnosticism) as presented in Mikkel to the pure, unquestioning faith of Inger. One interpretation (a classic literary view) of the gulf between the families (and even within each family) is that Anders and Anne, will in time make the parts whole again.

    Yet another, idea presented, is that we are not intended to examine the nature of faith too closely: that quest is what drove Johannes mad. Or is he?

    As Brook points out (and thanks for this —I’d never made the Biblical connection before), he may have become so enlightened that he cannot be understood by ordinary men. So Johannes represents both the child and the Spirit. Does he also represent The Father? Perhaps at the end, but I’ve never been able to completely resolve this in my mind.

    To me, Dreyer may be saying that no faith that we can have is complete, or accurate or correct (it is possible that I except Inger—but likely I need to watch the film again). And should we come to a ‘true’ faith, no one, then will understand us.

    As for the ending itself, I was shocked when I saw the film the first time. But on reflection, I now think that Dreyer is saying that with true faith, nothing is impossible. That when we have true faith, we have become one with God, so that matters of life and death are no longer of consequence.

    But enough of pontification.

    This is some of my view of the day. It may, and likely will change as I read other thoughtful views (already learned something from Brook) and when I again watch and consider the film.

    And glad that you like the film and Dreyer. He is one of my favorite filmmakers. And his B&W is some of the most stunning I have ever seen.
     
  5. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Definitely Lew, Ordet is about the nature of faith, just as The Passion of Joan of Arc is about faith, Day of Wrath is about faith, and in their own way, Vampyr and Gertrud are also about faith.
    A running question through his films is how the society and institutions that we have created inhibit us from having stronger faith. It is a great paradox of life that man often struggles for faith and understanding, and yet, we have created our own barriers to achieving what we most desire.
    Mike, it doesn't really matter whether or not Johannes is actually Jesus, I don't believe that is the case btw. But he has been touched and it has awoken a gift of prophecy. But to get back to my point, again faith is what is important. To paraphrase the Bible again "If your faith is strong enough you can say to a mountain, "move here", and it will do it"
    Mike, have you seen Bergman's The Seventh Seal? If you like both Seventh Seal and Ordet and the questions they raise, I highly recommend Bergman's Winter Light, another fascinating and important film about the nature of faith and especially the loss of faith and how faith and religion are two very different things.
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Mike,if you have not seen them (and I can’t remember from your posts) you might also be interested in Tartovsky’s Andrei Rublev and especially Offret/The Sacrifice. Both consider the nature of morality and spirituality. The latter film is not entertaining.
     
  7. Russ Lucas

    Russ Lucas Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike, don't be concerned that the ending is eating away at you. It does that to everybody who I've discussed the movie with, irrespective of their thoughts concerning faith and their own beliefs. It's a supremely beautiful scene. I don't know if any other movie has ever made me inhale sharply like that.

    The film shows us faith in all its forms: dogmatism (Peter vs. the elder Borgen), "conventional" and ecumenical faith (Inger), childlike faith (the daughter), "professional" faith (the pastor, whose faith comes off looking the worst of them all), "delusional" faith (Johannes) and unbelief (the husband).
     
  8. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Thanks for the replies, folks.

    Brook, it is true that Johannes had something to is insanity- he was able to predict the death and resurrection of Inger. It's the kind of mystery that can only be appreciated by pure, unhindered faith, shared only with the little girl.

    I just starting collecting Criterion DVDs with an ambition to have them all eventually. So, I will get Seventh Seal, Jean D'Arc, and Andrei Rublev eventually.
     

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