This account of anti-Semitic pogroms in 1905 Russia is, atypically for Dreyer, in the epic register, boasting a complex, condensed narrative packed with subplots and impressive both for its turbulent crowd scenes and for its use of well-chosen extras. Though some of the characters are broadly drawn, the recreation of turn-of-the-century St. Petersburg again displays Dreyer’s desire for authenticity.
“Remarking that Aage Madelung’s novel was enormously long and sprawling, Dreyer probably has the last word when he says: ‘Perhaps it was wrong to want to condense this big work in order to make a film of it. This proves that novels shouldn’t be filmed. I prefer to film theatre.’ Interestingly, after the interlude of Once Upon a Time, Dreyer was to embark on two films, Mikaël and Master of the House, which took up and perfected a cinematic equivalent of the Kammerspiel form in order to probe more deeply into motives and characters.” (Tom Milne)
Showing as part of a season of Carl Dreyer’s greatest films throughout April.