Classic Movie Review: Gertrud (1964)


Title: Gertrud
Release Date: 19 December 1964
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Production Company: Palladium
Summary/Review: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Danish director of the classic silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc, completed his career with this film, adapted from a play The film betrays its stage origins with several long drawing room conversations.  In fact, Gertrud is famous for its long takes of up to ten minutes.

The titular Gertrud (Nina Pens Rode) is a former opera singer who announces early on in the film that she wants to divorce her husband Gustav (Bendt Rothe), a politician who is on the verge of being appointed as a cabinet minister.  She reviews her life and her future in ponderously long conversations with Gustav, her young lover Erland (Baard Owe),  and an ex-lover Gabriel (Ebbe Rode).

I’ve never found it especially profound for an actor to speak in flat tones while staring off into the distance, but it’s especially tedious when it’s done for nearly two hours.  Fortunately, I’m not alone in my dislike of this movie.  It was booed when released at Cannes, and an early reviewer stated “Not a film, but a two-hour study of sofas and pianos.” I guess this one of those movies that might be affecting to some, but I am not among them.

Rating: **1/2