This DVD edition is a restoration of Carl Th. Dreyer's first feature film as director. Already in his debut we are witnesses to the thematic mainstay of most of his later films; the mother left to her own destiny with her illigitimate child. In this film the man is haunted by guilt, which he is not allowed to repent.
The source of this restoration, supervised by Marguerite Engberg in 1999, is the original nitrate negative. Most silent films were positive cut, with the negative ordered by the lighting designed for the scene; amber for daylight, blue for night and red for fire. Using the manuscript and a partly survived script for the editing, the 224 takes were registered and spaces for the 116 intertitles marked. The scan has been performed from a new tinted 35 mm print produced from the restored duplicate negative in continuity order.
About the film
Praesidenten is a film about the crucial conflict between the (conservative) codes of society and individual moral. It tells the story of a grandfather, father and son of a well respected family who all make the same mistake and fall in love with a common girl. They all have to resolve the problem in a way acceptable to the society they live in but must consequently suffer the inner guilt that inevitably follows. Finally, late in his life the son, whose a respected judge in a small town, gets a chance to redeem himself and his ancestors by doing the right thing morally but also severely breaking the law in doing so. This highlights the conflict between the personal and the societal spheres of right and wrong in a spectacular way, especially as Dreyer depicts the other local men of power as only concerned with how the incident would affect their status in society.
Dreyer uses flashback-structure in a very efficient and economical way to build the comparisons between the different times portrayed in the film. Furthermore: in this our digital age of fast editing and overflow of image it is most gratifying to see a film that has a complex point to make and manages to do that almost effortlessly with a minimum of "hassle". The direction is so economic it almost hides the mastery of cinematic vision behind it to the untrained eye.
First of all - the film. It's fascinating. Within the first few minutes are unusual shots of small children trying to clamber down broken ruins, closeups of frogs leaping, and lovely outdoors shots of lovers on a lake, kissing in a boat (reminiscent of Vredens Dag). After this quick paced, fresh, Vigo-like start - the film settles down a bit after a 30-year jump into the future, and Dreyer fans will have a treat spotting stylistic traits and decor that looks straight out of La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc and Ordet. I won't delineate the plot, however, let me just add that any fans of Dreyer out there should strive to pick this up --- it's unlikely we'll see another DVD of this film for many years.
Pręsidenten / The President - Denmark 1919 - Directed and written by: Carl Theodor Dreyer, from a novel by Karl Emil Franzos - Cinematographed by: Hans Vaagų - Cast: Halvard Hof , Elith Pio, Carl Meyer, Jacoba Jessen, Olga Raphael-Linden, Betty Kirkeby, Jon Iversen - Produced by: Nordisk Films Kompagni - Premiere: February 1, 1919
Penge / Money - Denmark 1915 - Directed by: Karl Mantzius - Written by: Carl Theodor Dreyer, from the novel "L'Argent" by Emile Zola - Cast: Karl Mantzius, R. Schyberg, Svend Aggerholm - Produced by: Nordisk Films Kompagni - Premiere: December 31, 1915
- Pręsidenten (tinted) 1919, 89'
- Piano Score by Ronen Thalmay
- Scene selection
- Penge 1919, 1' (Fragment)
- Carl Theodor Dreyer Biography
- Carl Theodor Dreyer Filmography
Edited by: Danish Film Institute & Cinematheque
DVD Authoring: Angel DVD
DVD Supervision: Thomas Christensen