Actors: Johannes Meyer, Astrid Holm, Mathilde Nielsen
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Format: NTSC, Silent
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Run Time: 111 minutes
Danish filmmakers were pioneers at the dawn of cinema, right up there with the French. Had it not been for the invention of sound and back-to-back wars in
Europe, they might have been the dominating nation in the
art form. This argument can be clearly seen in the work of Carl Theodor Dreyer,
which was ahead of its time not just in terms of filmmaking techniques, but
also in the stories which he chose to tell. Master
of the House is one of Dreyer’s more modest films, but there is brilliance
in its simplicity and maturity in the narrative based on the play Tyrannens
fald by Svend Rindom.
Feminist filmmaking at the very core, Master of the House tells the story of every hard-working housewife in the tale of Ida (Astrid Holm) and her ungrateful husband, Viktor (Johannes Meyer). They live a modest lower-middle-class life, but they do not have a happy household. While Ida works day and night to make her husband feel like king of his home, nothing seems satisfactory to him. His tyrannical behavior is punished when Ida’s mother (Clara Schønfeld) and the family nanny (Mathilde Nielson) join forces to teach Viktor a lesson.
After nitpicking all of the small errors in Ida’s housework, Viktor is forced to deal with his former nanny’s exploitation of these preferences. She sends Ida away, forcing Viktor to endure a household without his wife’s presence and daily efforts. They passively put him in his place, allowing Viktor to come to the realization of his own errors in the marriage, until he willingly offers a change.
The Criterion Collection Dual Format release includes the film on both DVD and Blu-ray with a new 2K digital restoration and Gillian B Anderson’s reconstructed score performed by pianist Sara Davis Buechner. There are also new English intertitle translations, and a couple new special features that are included on both formats. These include a new interview with Dreyer historian Casper Tybjerg and a visual essay by historian David Bordwell. The booklet insert also has an essay by film scholar Mark Le Fanu.
Entertainment Value: 5.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10
Historical Significance: 8.5/10
Special Features: 8/10