Movie poster of the week: Day of WrathAugust 29, 2008
Opening today at the IFC Center in a gorgeous new print, is a 65th anniversary revival of Carl Th. Dreyer’s masterpiece Day of Wrath. Made during the Nazi occupation of Denmark in 1943, and set during the witch hunts of the 17th Century, Day of Wrath is beautifully austere, heart-stoppingly thrilling and ineffably strange. Its abiding visual impression—and the reason why this Polish poster (designed, as far as I can glean, by Lucjan Jagodinsky in 1957) is so perfect—is of pale faces in white collars looming in the darkness. But there is also a lovely wind-in-the-trees sequence of pastoral bliss that counters the encroaching gloom.
The Danish poster is also very striking, with the memorably named Herlof’s Marte looming over the consciences of the pastor Absalon and his young wife Anne (Lisbeth Movin, looking remarkably like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched. Did the producers of that show watch Day of Wrath before they cast it?)
But one of my favorite Day of Wrath posters is the huge French quad hanging behind the Quay Brothers in this photograph:
I once saw that poster for sale, twenty years ago in Paris in a movie theater box office window on Rue Mouffetard, but I had a choice between buying that or a poster of Ordet and I chose the latter since Ordet was then, and probably still is, one of my all-time favorite films. But I’ve always regretted not getting both.