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(Review originally written at 15 December 2007)

What an incredible atmosphere this movie has.

But it's a hard to follow movie. It often difficult to see and understand what is happening on the screen. They didn't put an awful lot of effort into the story. It's as if the movie is only trying to be artistic. So yes, it's definitely a case of style over substance but when the style is such a good and beautiful thing, it's rarely ever a real complaint. Also this style really adds to the nightmarish atmosphere of the entire movie. It's a very surreal expressionistic movie! The movie is also based on a novel by Sheridan Le Fanu. An Irish 19th century writer who would often incorporate his own dreams into his stories.

Especially the camera-work is phenomenal. Is it possible Alfred Hitchcock was also influenced by this movie? I noticed lots of similarities in the camera handling between his work and this movie. Just like an Hitchcock movie, this movie features a lot of staircase shots for instance, which is a part of the build up of the eerie suspense in this movie. The camera moves a lot and captures lots of emotions and elements in one and the same shot, often long, shot.

Otherwise, technically it isn't a very impressive movie. Not only the sound but also the images quality is very poor. There are many '20's movies that are better looking than this one. Appearantly this was all done intentionally to add to the movie its nightmarish atmosphere. Also the style of editing feels 'clumsily' old fashioned, as if Carl Theodor Dreyer was trying to bring us back to the '20's, when German expressionistic masterpieces such as "Faust", "Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari" and "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens" got made. I personally don't mind Carl Theodor Dreyer doing this, but I can also imaging it scaring away a lot of people. Further more the movie also uses lots of shadows, which always was one of the key aspects in '20's silent movies. Carl Theodor Dreyer always had been a director with an own unusual mind. Hench his previous movie "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc", that for most part consisted out of only close-ups of the characters.

A not always easy or accessible- but beautiful movie to watch!

7/10

Watch trailer

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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