Ordet (Dreyer, 1955)


The first time I saw Ordet, it was within a week of my father dying. Even though I was watching it on a small laptop screen on my bed in my parents’ house, I still found it a devastating experience, not because of any similarity to my own recent experiences but because of Dreyer’s uncanny ability to make death a vivid, living character, stalking and dancing around his actors as they cope with the hardest thing we humans have to go through. I may have been aware of it before, but watching Ordet snapped into focus the idea that what I was going through was something universal. I leapt at the opportunity to see it in a cinema when the BFI announced its season of Dreyer films, not just because it had had such an effect on me when I had seen it before, but also  to see how much of my impression of it was a product of my own grief.