Carl Theodor Dreyer Elsa Gress Wright - Essay

Elsa Gress Wright

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Dreyer himself has subtitled Gertrud "a period piece," and a period piece it is, rendered nostalgically and with tender irony. It is also, in his intention, a tentative effort in the direction of the tragic film poetry which he believes will come about, when the truly cinematic tragic style has been formulated. The question is, however, whether he himself is not the tragic film poet he is waiting for. The style he has developed, and, with modifications dictated by his choice of milieu and theme has used in Gertrud, is certainly so close to film tragedy that probably only he himself could see any distance to the goal. It is an Apollonian kind of tragedy, in the vein of Euripides, the first "modern" tragic poet, but austere, almost Doric, in style. By creating it, Dreyer has refuted the words of his compatriot and contemporary, Isak Dinesen, to the effect that tragedy is no longer possible in modern times. Tragedy, he proves, is not only possible, but possible in the most modern of contemporary media. (p. 39)

Elsa Gress Wright, "Film Reviews: 'Gertrud'," in Film Quarterly (copyright 1966 by The Regents of the University of California; reprinted by permission of the University of California Press), Vol. XIX, No. 3, Spring, 1966, pp. 36-40.