(1955)4.5Lucia BozzolaHis return to features after a decade of documentary shorts, Ordet (1955) is one of Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer's most intense examinations of faith and religion. The second film version of Kaj Munk's play, Dreyer crisply lays out Ordet's different permutations of religious belief in the opening search for delusional theology student Johannes, setting up the conflict between personal faith and public piety that drives a fateful wedge between less-structured believer Morten and fundamentalist Peter. Dreyer's long-panning shots, glorious rural vistas, and carefully lit, precise interior compositions underline the earthly ramifications of the theological arguments. Though the stunning conclusion may seem to speak for itself, the preceding events turn it into a more complex question of what it means to live one's faith. Austere yet deeply moving, Ordet won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival; the growing 1950s following for thematically and artistically challenging international cinema turned Ordet into Dreyer's biggest commercial success. Regardless, the famously meticulous and rigorous filmmaker completed only one more feature before he died in 1968.