Monday, August 8, 2011

427. GERTRUD (1964)

Running Time: 116 minutes
Directed By: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Written By: Carl Theodor Dreyer, from play by Hjalmar Soderberg
Main Cast: Nina Pens Rode, Bendt Rothe, Ebbe Rode, Baard Owe, Axel Strobye


Longtime fans of my blog will know that Carl Th. Dreyer and myself go together just about as well as oil and water. However, as I continue my trek through the 1960s, I stayed positive (as I usually try my best to do) and went in with an open mind.

The film tells the story of Gertrud (Pens Rode), a middle aged woman who, upon the films opening, abruptly tells her husband Gustav (Rothe), that their marriage has ran it's course and she has found another lover. Her husband pleads with her, but Gertrud stands strong, barely showing any emotion and sticking to her guns. In the following scene, we see Gertrud with the previously mentioned lover, Erland Jansson (Owe). It's immediately obvious that her Erland is simply using Gertrud, possibly treating her as a wild oat or proud of the fact that he's been able to lure a woman away from her husband. However, Gertrud is head over heels with him and it's in this scene that she finally seems to show some emotion, that being happiness. They make love and the next day Gertrud accompanies her husband to a ceremony honoring poet Gabriel Lidman (Rode), a former lover of Gertud's and someone who wants her back in the worst way. During the ceremony, Gertrud finds out from Gabriel that Erland was at a party the night before telling everyone who would listen about his affair with Gertrud - a party that Gertrud asked Erland not to attend. While Gertrud's mind is on Erland and his unseemly ways, Gabriel pours his heart out to Gertrud, making it known that he wants her back. However, Gertrud seems to have her mind set on locking the door to her heart and throwing away the key.


Even the "1001" book speaks a little ill of "Gertrud" when it calls it an "old man's film" and states that, like it's heroine it should "approached on it's own terms". The film actually had me hooked from the word "go", as we're treated to an approximately ten minute opening scene of Gertrud telling Gustav that their marriage has pretty much run it's course and that they've grown so cold toward one another, that it's time to call it Splitsville. As stated above, Gertrud (played well enough by Nina Pens Rode) stays pretty straight faced through the entire debacle, as Gustav begs and pleads for answers and understanding, which he doesn't get enough of. I was hooked and assumed I was in for a dialogue driven movie. The dialogue, in the opening shot, between Pens Rode and Bendt Rothe was every day dialogue, very real and heartfelt. Following that opening scene, someone must have injected the actors with a shot of Shakespeare's blood, because everyone seemed to transform into a poet, via their dialogue. Seriously, does anyone really talk like the characters in the film were talking? I mean, sure, it all sounded very pretty and eloquent, but it just wasn't real and sounded so fake and well written, that it was almost impossible to just let yourself fall into the films embraces, because you were constantly being reminded that this WAS a film. In my opinion, dialogue this good is bad, because it's too perfect to be real.

Also, at times I enjoyed Gertrud's lack of emotion, but then it got to be a little annoying, to the point that I just wanted to yell at the screen for these actors, especially her, to show me SOMETHING! You have these people pouring their hearts out to one another, expressing love, despair and lust and yet their faces stay solemn almost the entire time. COME ON! In short, once you get past the opening scene, the thing drops off pretty fast. I like the fact that they stuck to a dialogue driven script, as I usually enjoy those, but here the dialogue was too hokey to really mean anything and the actors were to emotionless to grip me. Besides those two MAJOR things, I guess it's an average affair, but nothing that I'd EVER want to watch again. It drags like a MoFo and by the end I was having trouble keeping my lids open and was forced to even rewind a few times to catch some text that got by my weak eyes. There seemed to be some sort of message buried in there and it seemed to be "Don't fall in love, or you're going to get shanked right in the heart!" Not a message that I'm an advocate of, but apparently Dreyer was. I did find it interesting that Gertrud turned down her husband (who wanted her badly, but had bigger priorities), Erland (who she loved and lusted over, but who wasn't faithful and who paraded their love like a trophy) and Gabriel (who wanted her very badly, but who had hurt her in the past), yet, even in her old age, she still remained friends with Axel and that they were friends and friends only. I kind of liked that and while I don't completely understand it, I still found it appealing in a way.

RATING: 4.5/10 Maybe....maybe....maybe I'll watch it again someday and maybe I'll find some things that I overlooked this time around. But for now call it a misfire.


August 7, 2011 10:19pm

1 comment:

  1. you were far more forgiving than I was about Gertrud. I loved ranting about it so much it became a favourite.


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