Wednesday, October 5, 2011


There are a lot of things that are clearly good about this movie, but unfortunately I wasn't up for understanding them or really noticing many of them. I hate it when my mood or tiredness affects how I perceive a film, but it's really unavoidable. This project takes up so much of my time (at least 3 hours a night, if the film is an average length) and it's really tough to do that non-stop. It affects a lot of different parts of my life, because so much of it revolves around the project. One of those things is that I'm often tired, because some nights I'm not home until 8 or 9 and I find myself facing a 2 hour movie and a blog post. It's like a part-time job, or grad school (probably way easier though)! I don't get nearly as much sleep as I would like, and it really does wear down on me. I'm obviously not making an excuse, because I still have been watching and writing. I guess I'm just trying to explain how involved and difficult this really can be at times. This week I have really been running on empty, and it was almost impossible for me to settle down for today's movie - Ordet, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer in 1955.

"How do we understand faith and prayer, and what of miracles?" starts the summary on IMDB. Heh, had you going there, thinking I was going to do some work or something.  "August 1925 on a Danish farm. Patriarch Borgen has three sons: Mikkel, a good-hearted agnostic whose wife Inger is pregnant, Johannes, who believes he is Jesus, and Anders, young, slight, in love with the tailor's daughter. The fundamentalist sect of the girl's father is anathema to Borgen's traditional Lutheranism; he opposes the marriage until the tailor forbids it, then Borgen's pride demands that it happen. Unexpectedly, Inger, who is the family's sweetness and light, has problems with her pregnancy. The rational doctor arrives, and a long night brings sharp focus to at least four views of faith."

It sounds sort of interesting, but realize that this movie is a little over 2 hours. I guess I got restless, like a little kid. I found the way the dialogue was delivered off-putting and dull, and I started to space out and get antsy. It sounded really flat to me, like the characters were speaking in monotone, just saying dialogue with their heads tilted to the side. Maybe I didn't get it? I just couldn't pull any emotion from it, and it felt so overly-long in the beginning. Like maybe it shouldn't have been a film but an essay or a novel, because visually and auditory-ally I was really not involved. If there was a reason it was like this, I was too tired and mushy-brained to really pick up on it. I wasn't prepared for a a movie that I would have to work through, I guess. 

It's not the fault of the film at all, though! Rather, it's my fault for not being ready to engage with it, for being a big sack of tired instead of a ready and willing viewer. I really do hope that sometime I can go back to this when I can focus. It's like when you're in college. Ideally you go into every class ready to learn and be a great student, but sometimes you're just not there. You didn't sleep enough, you're too stressed out, you don't have any more energy to give. That's me today. I just wasn't ready to work hard at this film, to really listen to it. I wanted it to hook me and force me to care about it, but like a lot of professors, it was going to drone on and do it's thing regardless of how I felt. 

Unlike Ebert, who found the film at first boring but then found himself engrossed in it, I found it boring and then started to let my mind drift elsewhere. "I need to figure out when we're getting that label printer I sent out for repair back in," I thought, "and I need to figure out how to make that CS5 calendar script work for me. Got to practice entering orders. Need to get things ready for our next big event that I'm working. Have to go out this weekend to try on some winter coats. LL Bean, maybe? They have Thinsulate, whatever that is. Maybe I'll go test drive a Scion. I would like a Scion." I just had too much else, however stupid, on my mind. Once my brain went idle, it went somewhere else, and that was it. I couldn't really get back into the movie, and because I was so unfocused, it never hooked me like it did Ebert.

I feel like maybe if I had watched this on a Saturday when I wasn't worrying about work or errands, I might have been able to stay focused. But I know that everyone has had this experience (even if it's not with a movie - like drifting away when someone boring is talking or during a class). I feel frustrated with myself for not being able to focus, but honestly, I think I do pretty good most of the time. Maybe it makes me the poopiest film "critic", but I haven't heard of many critics who work an unrelated full time job and then go home and do their critic things.

Have any thoughts about Ordet? Share them in the comments!



  1. Hi Mandy. First of all 'Hi' from Indonesia, I follow your blog almost on daily basis, & quite often I am interested in a unknown movie that from your post, only then reading Ebert's post.

    ORDET is one my favorite movie - a transendental movie for me - I am sorry that you are not in the best mood watching it tonight, but perhaps you can rewatch it some other time.

    I also do the kind of project like you, trying to watch a movie a day. but I don't have a fixed list for the weeks or months, but I have rough plan of what movies I plan to watch for the next 3 or 4 days. I started not from Ebert Great movies only, but from several other list, ie : AFI 100, 1001 movies, etc. A single good site for picking a good movie from list is :

    I let myself as relax as possible. For instance : occasionally when I am not in the mood, & it took me 2 days to finish a long & rather boring movie, then let it be, instead of pushing myself to finish the film at the same day to be able to catch the next day's movie. In a very good day like weekend with a good mood, I can finish even 2 movies in a day. Roughly the pace is still more/less 30 movies in a month.

    Sometime I found a very interesting director in particular,ie: recently I found Rainer Fassbinder, then I can go as far as I can with his other movies & forget the other for a while.

    Just my thought, but try to relax & enjoy the project as much as you can with your controllable pace & have fun - that's the most important

    PS : I just followed your twitter.

    Best Wishes,

    Twitter :

    - A movie a day- entertaining & inspiring me -

    Films I've seen so far :

  2. I do plan to try to watch Ordet once I have some more free time.

    The way that you do your movie-a-day sounds nice, much more relaxed. If I keep finding myself overwhelmed and stressed, I'll definitely have to switch to doing things a little more laid back.

    Thank you for the lovely comment :)

  3. By the end of this project, some directors will impress you so much that you would like to watch their most/all films, & there will probably the next exciting project :)

    Some of them that were & are in my projects are :

    - Woody Allen
    - Ingmar Bergman
    - Ozu
    - Patrice Leconte (start with The Hairdresser's Husband, Monsieur Hire, & so on)
    - Eric Rohmer
    - Truffaut
    - Claude Chabrol
    - Fassbinder

    To make it fun, I don't need to go strictly finishing the works of 1 director before go to next, but flexibly switch between them depend on my mood.