Day of Wrath is generally regarded to be one of Dreyer's greatest works. Its mood is sombre and intense; the narrative pace is steady and deliberate, presenting horrific events with chilling restraint; and it deals with all his prime concerns: religious faith, the supernatural, social intolerance, innocence and guilt, and the clash between society and the individual especially the individual woman. This is a dark and powerful tale of love and betrayal, and of a community gripped by an obsessive fear of witchcraft.
In early seventeenth-century rural Denmark an old woman is hunted down and burned as a witch, despite the efforts of the parson's young wife, Anne, to save her. Anne (whose own mother had been suspected of being a witch), is possessed by a secret passion for her stepson, a young man of her own age, and when her elderly husband dies she finds herself accused of using witchcraft to cause his death. Seen by some as an allegory of the Nazi occupation of Denmark and by others as an indictment of male domination and suppression of strong women, Day of Wrath has an extraordinary emotional intensity achieved by superb performances, and is a stunning example of the humanity, artistic power and technical mastery of Dreyer's art.
Part of our season Superstition, Witchcraft, Body without Organs and the Occult