Ordet was the only film Carl Theodor Dreyer directed during the two decades between Two People (1945) and his final film, Gertrud (1964). With Gertrud, it represents the apotheosis of his controlled visual style, consisting of long, uninterrupted takes, with one shot often sufficing for an entire sequence. The 124-minute running time contains only 114 shots.
The film focuses on a devout parson and his three sons, the eldest of whom, Mikkel (Emil Hass Christensen), has rejected God altogether, while his sibling Johannes (Preben Lerdorff Rye) has had a breakdown and thinks himself to be Jesus.
Based on a 1932 play by Kaj Munk, the material is transformed by Dreyer into uniquely slow, hypnotic cinema that examines the nature of believing. The ending ranks among the medium’s most beautiful and mysterious.
“This film is the high watermark of spiritual or transcendental cinema. Strangely atmospheric and exceptionally intense, Ordet ’s discomforting meditation on the nature of real faith is served by Dreyer’s masterful handling of camerawork, staging, physical detail and sound, and builds to a climax that is arguably the most astonishing and moving in all cinema.” Jonathan Owen
“It’s hard to think of another film that more exquisitely captures the perpetual heartbreak of being among other people, the distances of understanding that linger in the spaces between figures in a single shot. It literally takes a miracle to bring them together: a miracle made possible through cinema.” Kevin B. Lee
“Mise en scène as miracle.” Marco Müller