Review of Ordet

Ordet (1955)
The paradox and the miracle
18 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
What is the effect of transcendence? Tarkovsky spoke of a struggle between reality and divinity, while Dreyer speaks of the miracle as something paradoxical that we do not always have to accept. The director places Ordet at the moment in which the change in social paradigm takes place: the characters cannot decide without the help of God, incapable of thinking rationally. In fact, Dreyer introduces us to Johannes (Preben Lerdorff Rye), the "prophet" as someone insane who has lost his mind; his goal was to create a character that would be uncomfortable. Such were the director's efforts, that he asked Preben to change his tone of voice to one more irritating and had him shown on stage in different lighting.

To emphasize this distinction, Dreyer works hard on the delimitation of domains. The main space of the film is the house, an expression of the human domain; and, paradoxically, the supernatural nature. And to show that step, Dreyer makes use of the plane of the staircase, which leads to where the wind sounds.

On the other hand, in the domain of the human, everything turns to the traditional pillar, embodied in the figure of the father (Morten Borgen); something that is also seen in the painting. To give character to the lines of this character, Dreyer plays with camera movements: turns, traveling ...

Another of the central themes of the film is temporality. This subject is in many moments linked to the transcendental conflict; since the clock (human temporality) is challenged with the death and subsequent resurrection of Inger. When she dies, the characters stop the clock in an act of rebellion and disbelief ("this is not happening"); and when she is resurrected, the clock is turned back as if nothing had happened. It changes the old perception of temporality joining it to the concept of life and death; so the miracle of the resurrection is a turning back in time. One more example of the passage from the mythological to the rational.

The wish of the girl and the family ends up being ours as well. And for this reason, Dreyer breaks the natural rules of representation so that a miracle occurs, making us participate in that dialogue with the non-earthly. And then the paradox of the miracle happens: demanding our earthly presence from the divine.
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