Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word (McLellan Books)

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9780295988542: Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word (McLellan Books)

If there is one film in the canon of Carl Theodor Dreyer that can be said to be, as Jacques Lacan might put it, his most “painfully enjoyable,” it is Gertrud. The film's Paris premier in 1964 was covered by the Danish press as a national scandal; it was lambasted on its release for its lugubrious pace, wooden acting, and old-fashioned, stuffy milieu. Only later, when a younger generation of critics came to its defense, did the method in what appeared to be Dreyer's madness begin to become apparent.

To make vivid just what was at stake for Dreyer, and still for us, in his final work, James Schamus focuses on a single moment in the film. He follows a trail of references and allusions back through a number of thinkers and artists (Boccaccio, Lessing, Philostratus, Charcot, and others) to reveal the richness and depth of Dreyer's work--and the excitement that can accompany cinema studies when it opens itself up to other disciplines and media. Throughout, Schamus pays particular attention to Dreyer's lifelong obsession with the “real,” developed through his practice of “textual realism,” a realism grounded not in standard codes of verisimilitude but on the force of its rhetorical appeal to its written, documentary sources.

As do so many of the heroines of Dreyer's other films, such as La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928), Gertrud serves as a locus for Dreyer's twin fixations; written texts, and the heroines who both embody and free themselves from them. Dreyer based Gertrud not only on Hjalmar Soderberg's play of 1906, but also on his own extensive research into the life of the “real” Gertrud, Maria van Platen, whose own words Dreyer interpolated into the film. By using his film as a kind of return to the real woman beneath the text, Dreyer rehearsed another lifelong journey, back to the poor Swedish girl who gave birth to him out of wedlock and who gave him up for adoption to a Danish family, a mother whose existence Dreyer only discovered later in life, long after she had died.

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From the Publisher:

"In this engaging and erudite book, James Schamus gives new and compelling reasons to love this often unloved film about the excesses and limits of love. Like Gertrud contemplating a tapestry and refinding a dream, Schamus leads us, in this beautifully written book, to recognize in an image a ciphered desire from which an entire story can unfold." - D. N. Rodowick, Harvard University

"Gertrud, at once monumental and mysterious, finds its ideal critic in James Schamus. His brief, probing chapters illuminate the film from so many angles - Dreyer's life, the original play, the history of aesthetics, the institutions of cinema both then and now - that we return to this 'failed masterpiece' with new respect, even awe. Informed by deep research and shrewd looking and listening, this study offers something one seldom finds in modern film studies: tactful eloquence in the face of sheer, enigmatic beauty." - David Bordwell, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"James Schamus has great faith in the viewer's active role when facing a work of art. He pries open a single image of Carl Dreyer's Gertrud and, like a passionate explorer, leads us through a labyrinth of meanings. For him, this is a journey of discovery, and while guiding us he traces his own map to that most mythical treasure hidden in the depths of cinema: the mirror that reflects the self." - Alfonso Cuarón, director of Y Tu Mamá También

About the Author:

James Schamus is a professor in the School of Arts, Columbia University, and the CEO of Focus Features. His screenwriting and producing credits include The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and a number of other films from his long collaboration with Ang Lee.

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Book Description University of Washington Press, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. If there is one film in the canon of Carl Theodor Dreyer that can be said to be, as Jacques Lacan might put it, his most painfully enjoyable, it is Gertrud. The film s Paris premier in 1964 was covered by the Danish press as a national scandal; it was lambasted on its release for its lugubrious pace, wooden acting, and old-fashioned, stuffy milieu. Only later, when a younger generation of critics came to its defense, did the method in what appeared to be Dreyer s madness begin to become apparent.To make vivid just what was at stake for Dreyer, and still for us, in his final work, James Schamus focuses on a single moment in the film. He follows a trail of references and allusions back through a number of thinkers and artists (Boccaccio, Lessing, Philostratus, Charcot, and others) to reveal the richness and depth of Dreyer s work--and the excitement that can accompany cinema studies when it opens itself up to other disciplines and media. Throughout, Schamus pays particular attention to Dreyer s lifelong obsession with the real, developed through his practice of textual realism, a realism grounded not in standard codes of verisimilitude but on the force of its rhetorical appeal to its written, documentary sources.As do so many of the heroines of Dreyer s other films, such as La Passion de Jeanne d Arc (1928), Gertrud serves as a locus for Dreyer s twin fixations; written texts, and the heroines who both embody and free themselves from them. Dreyer based Gertrud not only on Hjalmar Soderberg s play of 1906, but also on his own extensive research into the life of the real Gertrud, Maria van Platen, whose own words Dreyer interpolated into the film. By using his film as a kind of return to the real woman beneath the text, Dreyer rehearsed another lifelong journey, back to the poor Swedish girl who gave birth to him out of wedlock and who gave him up for adoption to a Danish family, a mother whose existence Dreyer only discovered later in life, long after she had died. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780295988542

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Book Description University of Washington Press, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. If there is one film in the canon of Carl Theodor Dreyer that can be said to be, as Jacques Lacan might put it, his most painfully enjoyable, it is Gertrud. The film s Paris premier in 1964 was covered by the Danish press as a national scandal; it was lambasted on its release for its lugubrious pace, wooden acting, and old-fashioned, stuffy milieu. Only later, when a younger generation of critics came to its defense, did the method in what appeared to be Dreyer s madness begin to become apparent.To make vivid just what was at stake for Dreyer, and still for us, in his final work, James Schamus focuses on a single moment in the film. He follows a trail of references and allusions back through a number of thinkers and artists (Boccaccio, Lessing, Philostratus, Charcot, and others) to reveal the richness and depth of Dreyer s work--and the excitement that can accompany cinema studies when it opens itself up to other disciplines and media. Throughout, Schamus pays particular attention to Dreyer s lifelong obsession with the real, developed through his practice of textual realism, a realism grounded not in standard codes of verisimilitude but on the force of its rhetorical appeal to its written, documentary sources.As do so many of the heroines of Dreyer s other films, such as La Passion de Jeanne d Arc (1928), Gertrud serves as a locus for Dreyer s twin fixations; written texts, and the heroines who both embody and free themselves from them. Dreyer based Gertrud not only on Hjalmar Soderberg s play of 1906, but also on his own extensive research into the life of the real Gertrud, Maria van Platen, whose own words Dreyer interpolated into the film. By using his film as a kind of return to the real woman beneath the text, Dreyer rehearsed another lifelong journey, back to the poor Swedish girl who gave birth to him out of wedlock and who gave him up for adoption to a Danish family, a mother whose existence Dreyer only discovered later in life, long after she had died. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780295988542

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