By James Schamus
If there's one movie within the canon of Carl Theodor Dreyer that may be stated to be, as Jacques Lacan could placed it, his such a lot "painfully enjoyable," it's "Gertrud". The film's Paris optimum in 1964 was once lined by way of the Danish press as a countrywide scandal; it was once lambasted on its unencumber for its lugubrious velocity, wood appearing, and outdated, stuffy milieu. simply later, whilst a more youthful new release of critics got here to its defence, did the tactic in what seemed to be Dreyer's insanity start to turn into obvious. To make vibrant simply what used to be at stake for Dreyer, and nonetheless for us, in his ultimate paintings, James Schamus makes a speciality of 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 buzz which can accompany cinema reports whilst it opens itself as much as different disciplines and media.Throughout, Schamus can pay specific realization to Dreyer's lifelong obsession with the "real," constructed via his perform of 'textual realism', a realism grounded now not in typical codes of verisimilitude yet at the strength of its rhetorical attract its written, documentary resources. As accomplish that some of the heroines of Dreyer's different movies, corresponding to "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 include and loose themselves from them.Dreyer established "Gertrud" not just on Hjalmar Soderberg's play of 1906, but additionally on his personal wide learn 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 true girl underneath the textual content, Dreyer rehearsed one other lifelong trip, again to the bad Swedish lady who gave start to him out of wedlock and who gave him up for adoption to a Danish relatives, a mom whose lifestyles Dreyer in simple terms stumbled on later in lifestyles, lengthy after she had died.
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Additional resources for Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word (McLellan Books)
Ibid. “making visible” of language’s constitutive rupturing of experience—of the that experience’s meaning into an abstract order of significance separable from our bodies—is what places the visual aspect of Dreyer’s film under so much pressure. To the extent to which the characters “make sense” of their situation they also detach themselves from it. And when those moments of consciousness come, they are often accompanied by violent attacks on the images from which each particular character’s consciousness detaches itself.
Ekphrasis” is usually defined as the rhetorical performance by which a work of literature attempts to imitate a work of visual art. Given that the Imagines is considered the earliest surviving work of sustained art criticism in the West, and that it is made up almost wholly of extended ekphrases of works of art, this is worth pausing over. The Imagines is a wonderful little book, a sophistical tour de force that engages the battle between word and image from its very first words—by insisting on the under- See Ruth Webb on the “striking divergence” of definitions of “ekphrasis” in art and literary theory.
Realism creates the desire for real characters—those of the “weaker sex” who struggle to produce language they can claim as their own—and so creates an internal tension about the adequacy of its own textual authority. ) In Dreyer, this realist desire for real selfhood is magnified to truly heroic proportions—and so too is its counterpart, the rhetoric of the authoritative, containing text. This battle between self and authority is often gendered. Indeed, virtually every film Dreyer made—from his first, The President (1918) to his last, Gertrud—takes as its theme the confrontation of women with the patriarchal powers that attempt to define and dominate them.