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Day of Wrath

Day of Wrath -

This was my second Dreyer. I watched Ordet for the 5th Hall of Fame here years ago, all i really remember is i liked it. Should watch it again and check out his other stuff as i thought this was great. All i knew going in was that it was about witches and that it was apparently really slow, i guess it was but i honestly wouldn't have even thought of that if i hadn't read it and it didn't bother me at all.

Medieval heavy-moralistic attitudes are something i've always found very intriguing. Of course this could be seen as analogous to any oppressive regime like a certain one that was on everyone's particularly European's minds when this film was made. Separating it from that though i still find it a very interesting film without having to take any of that into consideration. Heriof Marte's begging for her life scene really got to me. The actress did a very good job, she seemed like a normal old woman who hadn't done anything wrong terrified of what was to come, so much so that she was willing to give up Anne's mother. "I'm so afraid to die" was really well delivered with her voice trembling then her turning back as if to say something else but just realizing it's useless and that her life is coming to an end. The great thing about this is that it shows that this way of living was so ingrained into this society that Marte herself believes Anne's mother was a witch. Despite the exact same thing happening to her at this moment she still doesn't question the validity of that. That part alone does an excellent job of setting up the mindsets of the time and it's only a few short scenes and maybe three minutes worth of dialogue. There's also the confession scene which is hilarious in a not funny in the slightest, horrifying sort of way. "She consented to the confession" made me laugh in disbelief, yeah we just brutally tortured her for god knows how long and now finally she has admitted to what she has done, there's no way she would have confessed to anything you asked of her to stop the torture. Tough old broad, wonder why she didn't use the dark arts on us when we were allowing her to freely wander about talking to Absalon. We also have "a fine confession", jesus i could see this in a Mel Brooks film. Yeah, we got it out of her guys, now lets not question why she only started confessing when we threatened to continue the torture, and lets not make anything of her not actually offering any answers herself but instead just agreeing with everything we were telling her. The execution scene was horrific, great scene(s). As i said earlier i found Marte just like a normal old woman, quietly scared but here she sounds like a raving mad woman out of fear which obviously in the minds of the church further confirms that she was a witch. The drastic change in her voice in particular and her screams as she's thrown on the stake were chilling. Very draining first half hour that's set the central conflict as well as the feel for what the society is like up very well.

I think Anne falling for Martin was done well enough. They didn't need to focus too much on it for it to be believable, the fact that her marriage to his dad was forced and that she is closer to age with him as well as the fact that Absalom was busy most of the time so she spent it with him, him conforting her during Marte's execution in particular was enough to make it believable. What it was best for was showing Anne separating herself from her existance as a repressed reverand's wife, her actually experiencing love and joy changing her personality completely, for the better in our eyes but a drastic change in those days especially towards what would be considered bad behaviour for a woman of course raises eyebrows. It's a great insight into a break from oppression, how much she takes to it to the point that you could just accept this film as a straightforward depiction of a woman becoming a witch, when really it's just her experiencing freedom for the first time in her life. Even the wishing death upon Absalom and later confessing seemed to be her trying to hold onto this happiness which wouldn't be able to continue if she was to continue on as an oppressed wife and her confession was her giving up knowing she can't have it anyway.

Anyway, think i've rabbled on long enough haha. Got to say this film was really creepy as well. The shadows, screaming, children singing, etc really got under my skin at times and worked to create the perfect atmosphere. The only thing i would have liked to see more of was around the village, a bit too much of it was set indoors i really love depictions of medieval villages. Saying that i really liked the creepy inside also with the shadows i mentioned and the seemingly always present ticking clock that enhanced the many silences throughout the film. Great film.