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New on Video: ‘Master of the House’

Master of the House

Written by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Svend Rindom

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

Denmark, 1925

It’s telling that the Criterion Collection touts Master of the House as a comedy. So regularly austere are the more popularly known works of Danish great Carl Theodor Dreyer, that perhaps in comparison, yes, this is at times funny. As a standard comedy, it’s admittedly weak; as a drama, however, it’s largely effective. Historian Casper Tybjerg, in an interview included on the new Criterion Blu-ray/DVD, makes a (only slightly convincing) case for the film as “basically” a comedy, noting that it was even made at a studio identified with comedic films. But more accurate is David Bordwell’s description of the film, which he mentions in a visual essay also included. In its employment of “silent film conventions of domestic drama,” it forms something more akin to a chamber play,
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