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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
Produced by Carl Theodor Dreyer
Written by Carl Theodor Dreyer
Kaj Munk
Starring Henrik Malberg
Emil Hass Christensen
Cay Kristiansen
Preben Lerdorff Rye
Music by Poul Schierbeck
Cinematography Henning Bendtsen
Editing by Edith Schlüssel
Release date(s) Denmark:
10 January 1955
United States:
15 December 1957
Running time 126 min.
Country Denmark
Language Danish

Ordet [1] (English: The Word) is a 1955 Danish drama film, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. It is based on a 1932 play by Kaj Munk, a Danish pastor who was killed by the Nazis. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, it was the only film by Dreyer that was both a critical and financial success.[1]



The film centers around a family of farmers, who are part of a religious community in West Jutland. In addition to the devout Morten, the father, there are his three sons: Mikkel, the eldest, who has no faith; Johannes, who has lost his mind and believes himself to be Jesus Christ; the third and youngest son is Anders, who wants to marry the daughter of Peter (Ejner Federspiel), a tailor who refuses the marriage because of Anders' (Cay Kristiansen) religious beliefs. Morten (Henrik Malberg) considers his religion (the 'Glad Christians' of Grunttvigism) to be about "life" and accuses Peter's faith (the 'Inner Mission') of being concerned with "death".

Inger (Birgitte Federspiel), wife of Mikkel (Emil Hass Christensen), is in the late stages of pregnancy; her difficult labor ends with a stillbirth. The doctor inconclusively debates with the pastor whether his science is more important than the pastor's faith in successfully saving Inger's life. Inger though, dies suddenly, the physician having left only moments before. Johannes goes missing, cannot be found, and it is feared his life may also have ended. Johannes (Preben Lerdorff Rye) was not taken seriously in his self-belief, but returning during the laying to rest of Inger, his reason now restored, he is able to heal the rift between the two different families. The final moments show Johannes using the miracle of resurrection; Inger rises alive and Mikkel announces the regaining of his faith.


Actor Role
Gerda Nielsen Anne Petersen
Sylvia Eckhausen Kirstin Petersen
Ejner Federspiel Peter Petersen
Cay Kristiansen Anders Borgen
Birgitte Federspiel Inger Borgen
Emil Hass Christensen Mikkel Borgen, her husband
Susanne Rud Lilleinger Borgen, Mikkel's Daughter
Ann Elisabeth Rud Maren Borgen, Mikkel's Daughter
Preben Lerdorff Rye Johannes Borgen
Henrik Malberg Morten Borgen
Ove Rud Pastor
Henry Skjær The Doctor
Edith Trane Mette Maren
Hanne Agesen Karen, A servant


Kaj Munk's play I Begyndelsen var Ordet (In the Beginning was the Word) was written in 1925 and premiered in Copenhagen in 1932. Already the year before, however, Munk had himself finished a script for a film version, which he unsuccessfully tried to sell to the production company Nordisk Film. In 1943 a Swedish film version was made, directed by Gustaf Molander, which couldn't premiere in Denmark until after the war.[1]

For Dreyer's adaption, only one third of the original dialogue was used. Another difference is the play's possibility of Inger just appearing to be dead, while the film is very clear about the resurrection being a genuine miracle. The film was shot on the island Vedersø, where Munk had worked as a priest.[1]


The film premiered on 10 January 1955 at Dagmar Teatret in Copenhagen.[1] It has been released on DVD by The Criterion Collection with spine number 126, as part of a box set with the other Dreyer films Day of Wrath and Gertrud.[2]


It was among films honored with the 1956 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as the National Board of Review Award for Best Foreign Film. At the 1955 Bodil Awards it won for Best Actor (Emil Hass Christensen), Best Actress (Birgitte Federspiel), and tied for Best Danish films. The film was also entered into the Venice Film Festival where it won its highest prize, the Golden Lion.


External links

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