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Second Time Around 

Wednesday, Mar 26 1997
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Ordet
A resurrection is usually the stuff of vampire movies and Christian fantasies, but Carl Dreyer's masterful Ordet (1955), which pivots on this logic-defying event, is neither. In fact, it's a densely detailed, mesmerizing study of the members of a spiritually decimated family in rural Denmark. The Borgens face religious wars with their neighbors, a crazy son who thinks he's Jesus Christ, and a treasured daughter-in-law whose death during a violent childbirth wracks the family. Dreyer was known for his agonizingly long takes, classical compositions, and Rembrandt-like lighting schemes, traits that are taken to unsettling extremes here. Still, these stylistic strategies never overwhelm the characters, and his resurrection of Inger (the brilliant Birgitte Federspiel, who was pregnant when the film was shot) is an extraordinary affirmation of the power of love over human limitations. In one of the great moments in cinema, she rises from her coffin, hungrily kissing her overwrought husband as if she were famished by death.

-- Gary Morris

Ordet (along with Peter Herwitz's Winter Dream Lieder) screens Sunday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. in an S.F. Cinematheque presentation at the Art Institute, 800 Chestnut (at Jones). Tickets are $6; call 558-8129.

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Gary Morris

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