Carl Dreyer’s last film (1964) is for me the most beautiful, affecting, and inexhaustible of all narrative films, but it’s clearly not for every tastenot, alas, even remotely. Adapted from a long-forgotten play by Hjalmar Soderberg, it centers on a proud, stubborn woman (Nina Pens Rode) who demands total commitment in love and forsakes both her husband and a former lover for a young musician who’s relatively indifferent to her. It moves at an extremely slow, theatrical pace in long takes recorded mainly in direct sound (though shot principally in a studio) and deserves to be ranked along with The Magnificent Ambersons, Lola Montes, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as one of the great haunted-memory films. Its meaning hinges partially on the refusal or inability to compromise and what this implies over the range of an entire life. (in this case Dreyer’s as well as his heroine’s). It’s exquisite, unbearable, and unforgettable. In Danish with subtitles. 116 min. (JR)

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