The Parson's Widow

Introduced by Mark Sandberg
Judith Rosenberg on Piano

UC Berkeley Professor Mark Sandberg holds a joint appointment in the Department of Scandinavian and the Department of Film and Media.

(Prästänkan). A young divinity student is offered a job at a rural parish-but only if he marries the previous parson's ancient widow-in Dreyer's surprising comedy, which injects the Romantic naturalism of such Swedish filmmakers as Victor Sjöström with some particularly caustic digs at the incompatible nature of religious duty and love. Young Søfren dreams of finally being able to marry his sweetheart after becoming a country parson, but unfortunately the church elders insist he must wed the stern, sinister widow instead (she's actually outlasted three parsons, through either stubbornness or witchcraft). Quickly realizing that she'll never die before him, Søfren soon plots some rather unholy ways to get her out of the picture. Filmed in a preserved medieval village in Norway with local farmers as extras, The Parson's Widow represents a clear break from the more aristocratic narratives of contemporary Danish cinema; serenely majestic countryside photography and an almost ethnographic attention to the farmer's tasks and religious customs further enhance this good-humored, pastoral idyll.

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