DAY OF WRATH (Vredens Dag)


day-of-wrath-vredens-dag-oct-25thMade during the Nazi occupation, Day of Wrath is set in 17th century Denmark. The beautiful young second wife of a country pastor falls in love with her stepson. On the death of her husband, she faces the condemnation of the local community, who accuse her of witchcraft. “Dreyer evokes the soul through the physical world; the result is a masterpiece, its slow, measured pace and stark visuals achieving an almost unbearable emotional intensity”, Geoff Andrew, Time Out. (Cert PG)
Dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer 93 mins Denmark 1943
This screening starts at 7.30 p.m.

Programme Notes

DAY OF WRATH (Vredens Dag)
Denmark 1943 97 minutes Cert. PG

Early 1600s in rural Denmark. Anne, the young second wife of a parson, seeks to save an old woman from being burned as a witch, but is unsuccessful. She is obsessively in love with her stepson, who is of a similar age and when her husband dies the local community accuse her of bringing about his death through witchcraft.

“The scenes of torture and burning, though discreetly handled, are almost unbearable, at least partly because the torturers and burners are not mere hysterics but convinced they have divine justice on their side.

“What Dreyer achieves is the sense that for these sternly Protestant people, whose inscrutable faces conceal great passion, witchcraft was a frightening reality. He does not argue for or against them, but simply, as one critic has said, evokes the dark night of the soul through an intensely physical world.” from “Derek Malcolm’s Century of Films” (The Guardian, April 2000).

The film was not well received in Nazi occupied Denmark. Some saw – and see – the film as an allegory on the contemporary situation. Dreyer, reportedly sincere in his denial, was nonetheless persuaded that it might be better to spend the rest of the war in neutral Sweden.

Rev. Absalon Pederssøn – Thorkild Roose
Anne – Lisbeth Movin
Merete – Sigrid Neiiendam
Martin – Preben Lerdorff Rye
Herlofs Marte – Anna Svierkier
The Bishop – Albert Høeberg

Director – Carl Theodor Dreyer
Screenplay – Carl Theodor Dreyer, Poul Knudsden, Mogens Skot-Hansen based on Anne Pedersdotter by Hans Wiers-Jenssen
Cinematography – Karl Andersson
Producers – Carl Theodor Dreyer, Tage Nielsen

Some links:,,365684,00.html

To be shown with: The Farm, Humphrey Jennings, UK 1938, 12 mins (Cert. exempt).


THE FARM and ENGLISH HARVEST (short films)

“Real nostalgia – I can remember those days clearly!”
“1: Great colour; fascinating; too short. 2: Music too loud and annoying; poorer colour. The pipe smoker must have been popular!”

“A G Street farmed in Wiltshire, near Salisbury. Evocative of that era and farming methods of the time – 1930s.”

“Preferred first short to second – music spoilt second one completely. Both a bit disjointed.”

“Actually, I liked them both – the information was different even if the scenes were similar.”

“Nice bit of social history but the commentary was awful!”

“A nice, dull antidote to all the fascist propaganda of the period.”

“A feeling that the end of an idyll was near.”

The Farm made the point that it was not for everyone with its talkative narration and clumsy editing. English Harvest was much better, with a simple narrative and uplifting use of classical music.”

“1: Comments sometimes incorrect! 2: Music intrusive but commentator/writer seemed to know what they were talking about.”

“1: Arrgh! 2: Much better – pity about the music”

“A G Street only marginally better – no voice-over or music needed.”

“Both variants boring. The Pastoral Symphony was poorly timed – and much too loud!”

“Boring, repetitive, patronising commentary”

“Less is more.”

“What can you say?”

“Much better without the toff talking down to us.”

“Send a copy to the Archers’ script writers!”

DAY OF WRATH (feature)

“What a remarkable achievement to make a film like this during the Nazi occupation.”

“Quite mesmerising – Taliban-like levels of self-righteousness.”

“Moving and convincing – truth loses out to superstition – again!”

“Wonderful but terrible and haunting”

“One of the most powerful and suspense-filled films I have ever seen. Excellent cinematography. A film of few words but one which spoke volumes about hypocrisy and tyranny. Pity some of the most ardent Christians have based their practices on misprinted Bibles which state ‘Thou shalt kill'”

“Very powerful and left me with a number of questions. Fantastic sets, costumes, atmosphere, etc.”

“Strangely gripping – the old lady reminded me of Finlay Currie! (The extra cushion worked!)”

“Starkly presented issues of power and belief. Did love triumph in the end?”

“Exceptional period drama. With its technical excellence, not even the occasionally over-the-top acting could spoil this religious allegory.”

“The protagonists never questioned or saw the other side of the issue, any other reasons or motives – all black, no white. A truly anti-religion argument.”

“Beginning most effective – very moving much of the time. Melodramatic, of course but the B&W was so effective.”

“You could see where the migrants to Salem got their behaviour from!”

“From a personal pov, the film was too violent but I could appreciate its subtlety. I did close my eyes for most of the ‘nasty’ scenes but the sound effects were still horrific!”

“Dark, very powerful”

“Great chiaroscuro, enhanced by the white ruffs and collars. Great shadows, doorways – Rembrandt, Poe, Bergman, in a way.”

“Powerful drama, brilliantly lit. Like an episode of The Killing but with collars instead of pullovers. Of course, it’s a good thing that burning witches has ended but it’s a pity they banned it before they got Thatcher’s Margaret! [sic]”

“A very well made and thoughtful film”

“Well filmed and acted but not enjoyable!”

“Intense – the long panning shots around the rooms matched the pace of the rest of the film”

“Powerful but Anne’s transformation was poor.”

“Very good. One minor point – Anne’s hair was too modern and Hollywood-like.”

“Reminded me of a cross between Hukkle and The Miller’s Tale (Chaucer). All three main characters were guilty in some way.”

“Plodding – this film at least re-affirmed my feelings about religion. Can we celebrate our new projector with some different (intro) music, please?”

“And I thought modern justice was pretty dire! Shame they don’t make stepmothers like that any more.”

“Not a category I can take. Maybe good of its kind but …. What a miserable evening!”

“Just like my mother-in-law. Hooray for Richard Dawkins and, boy, haven’t those Danes worked hard to be the happiest people in Europe!”

“Nice thing about the old projector is that even B&W movies come out in colour! Note documents all gave the date as 1632 but the carved trunk had the date 1639 – time travel! Great flick, though!”

“Watching a film like this indicated the need for a littler colour – even if only provided by the red shadow. Let’s keep the red shadow!”


A:20, B:14, C:10, D:4, E:1 to give 74%