Entertainment :: Movies

Master of the House

by Jake Mulligan
Contributor
Tuesday May 6, 2014
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In film circles, Carl Theodor Dreyer is certainly best known as the director of the silent masterpiece "The Passion of Joan of Arc." Dreyer made numerous sound films after "Joan of Arc" -- some matched it in acclaim, but none in stature. If you’ve ever taken a film class, odds are you’ve seen that one. Now Criterion is releasing another of his silent films, "Master of the House."

The film, which sees a family run roughshod over their patriarch to ends both comedic and dramatic, is evidence that Dreyer’s sure hand developed well before he filmed "The Passion."

By far, the strongest supplement is a visual essay by critic David Bordwell. He reads "Master" as a dense formalist manifesto, and unpacks the way that Dreyer uses camera movement to depict three-dimensional space within the film, among many other professed innovations.

There’s only one other extra feature here, an interview with a "Dreyer historian" Casper Tybjerg. Tybjerg tells us a bit about the play on which "Master" was based, as well as on the film’s place in the Dreyer filmography. Both he and Bordwell’s contributions to the disc are just confirmations of something the film itself clearly illustrates. Dreyer’s early, perhaps crude silent work was as richly innovative as his later masterpieces.


"Master of the House"
DVD
$24.95
Criterion.com

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