The Master of the House

Judith Rosenberg on Piano

(a.k.a. Thou Shalt Honour Thy Wife). Blustery and abusive, a petty tyrant of a husband embarks on a battle of wills with the women of “his” house in Dreyer's “realist comedy,” which turns its attention to the dramas, passions, and furies found within an everyday worker's flat. Unable to film in an actual flat due to technical issues, Dreyer built an exact replica in the studios, complete with four walls and working gas, water, and electricity, to heighten the effect of contained space on character and narrative. Refashioning the domestic comedy into a naturalistic look at ordinary life, The Master of the House is, for filmmaker Jonas Mekas, “full of the most precise and most beautiful details from the daily life at the beginning of the century; in a sense one could look at it as an ethnographic film." From this intriguing comedy, however, came further greatness; it was mainly the film's success in France that convinced French producers to fund Dreyer's next project, The Passion of Joan of Arc.

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