Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts and Grade: Gertrud (1964)

Gertrud (dir. Dreyer, 1964)

I found Dreyer's Gertrud  to be insufferable.  I found it so plodding and unwatchable that I actually considered turning it off about 70 minutes in to the film.  Now, if you want to cry heretic on me, go ahead.  It pains me so much to admit that a film which would seemingly tick all of my boxes (foreign, art house, technically adventurous, slow-burn, relationship drama) ended up infuriating me.

Gertrud is the story of a woman in a loveless marriage who ends the marriage and finds love with a young composer.  That's it.  The film examines Gertrud as she maneuvers through these 3 men in her lives, blahblahblah.  The problem with the film is that it's so flat.  The plot is not enough to sustain an audience's interests, and the characters are certainly rounded, but just completely insufferable.  I found myself constantly rolling my eyes at the endless conversations and the constant vacillations of Gertrud between whom she loves and what she should do about it.

Now, I'm not at all one of those filmgoers who needs to 'like' my characters to enjoy a film.  I think if you have to like characters to enjoy a film than you're just as close-minded as people who only go to see 'happy' films because "we don't need to be depressed at the movies."  Ok.  But I think the characters in this film suffer solely because the film is an exercise in style.  It's most well-known from being strung together by under 90 shots.  The longest shot being almost 10 minutes in length.  THAT is the focus of the film.  Not the plot, not the characters, but Dreyer's camera work.  It frustrates me because while it is certainly a feat of artistic merit, it does not a good film make.  I can give credit where credit is due, but that doesn't let me forget the parts of the film which have suffered due to this technical focus. 

Grade: C-

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