Leaves From Satan's Book

Judith Rosenberg on Piano

(Blade af Satans Bog). Inspired by a screening of Griffith's Intolerance, Dreyer turned his attention to creating a similar through-the-ages epic, in this case tracking the influence of Satan as he convinces humans to betray one another, whether in the time of Christ, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution, or during Finland's 1918 Civil War. Only his second feature, Leaves finds the director experimenting with close-ups, camera angles, and even set design, adding moments of spare simplicity to the usual “crowded masses” scenes found in most epics, and at times avoiding group shots entirely for what would become his trademark close-ups. “Dreyer's emphasis on behavioral detail gives Leaves a more intimate, humanistic tone than Griffith's thundering sermon,” wrote Dave Kehr in the New York Times; “his daring use of psychologically penetrating close-ups still seems decades ahead of its time.”

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