Film is the first in nine years by the noted Danish veteran (at 75) Carl Dreyer. From a turn-of-the-century secondary Swedish play [by Hjalmar Soderberg], Dreyer has woven what looks like a meditation on love.
This eschews trying to reconstruct the 1907 period in which it takes place and tries for a timlessness in presenting a theme that has been in most of Dreyer’s work, namely that reconciling true love with ordinary life and religion has always been a problem for those who will not compromise.
The heroine is a thirtyish woman who has been an opera singer. She had broken off a liaison with a poet and then married his friend. An affair with a young musician is also disappointing, since it was deep physical love for her but an adventure for him. Follows a look at her as an old woman who has devoted herself to a fairly solitary life of learning but has felt it was all worth it, since she had loved, even if incompatibly.
Theme, with echos of Ibsen, in its social haranguing for female independence, and Strindberg, in its difficulty in male and female understanding, lends itself admirably to Dreyer’s dry but penetrating style.
Nina Pens Rode has the right luminous quality for the romantic, uncompromising Gertrud, while the men are acceptable if sometimes overindulgent in their roles.