Miracles, reality and the power of love

The theologian Jes Nysten considers Day of Wrath, Ordet and Gertrud as steppingstones of sorts to Dreyer’s ultimate life’s work – his never-realised film about Jesus of Nazareth. Jumping off from Dreyer’s general critique of the potential for unfolding human fellowship through the ages, Nysten in his new contribution to the Carl Th. Dreyer website looks at miracles, levels of reality and not least: the power of love.

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The tangible and touching miracle in "Ordet", 1954.

The three films are attempts to unfold Dreyer’s understanding of “the miraculous.” The fight that Jesus fought is a fight that takes place at all times. The singular spiritual power he possessed, which cost him his life to reveal, is present in the world in miraculous ways and is revealed in glimpses of selfless love struggling to get through. This “fight” is not without cost. Jesus fought it through to the end. Likewise, in Dreyer’s three films, the desire to unfold miraculous love comes at great cost. In all three films, women are passionately trying to give the miraculous a foothold, and for all three women – with one conspicuous exception – the consequences are fatal.

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