Carl Th. Dreyer – The Tyrannical Dane

Denmark has produced one of the greatest cinema directors of all time. Like many personalities who have rose to claim their brilliance from a difficult origin, so did Carl Theodor Dreyer who was more commonly known as Carl Th. Dreyer. He was born an illegitimate child who eventually lived with adoptive parents. They were said to be emotionally distant from him and remained so all throughout up until he voluntarily left home at the age of sixteen.

His claim to fame as a movie director is provided by his movies namely The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Day of Wrath, Ordet, and Gertrud. Although his initial choice for a career was to be a journalist, he found himself joining the film industry in no time. He did not experience instant success and actually had to go to France to make a name for himself in the industry. He left one unfinished film about Jesus which was hindered by unstable economic conditions and his demands for realism.

Dreyer was very much a part of the Danish film industry which was largely supported by the Danish Film Insitute. There was a time that there seemed to be no demand for directors like Dreyer so he found himself returning to his first interest which was journalism. He eventually returned to filming, his self-avowed greatest passion and continued a career that would make a mark in the history of Danish Cinema.

He was called the Tyrannical Dane at some point because of what people observed as sadistic inclinations in his filming methods. He was known to have made his actors and actresses undergo torture and torment to extract the performance he wants from them. His highly controversial films were in no way considered commercial successes but the impression he left is probably the greatest success he lays claim to.



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