Day of Wrath

(Carl Th. Dreyer, DK, 1943)

Day of Wrath is set in Denmark in 1620s, a period of peaking witch-hunts, spurred by Christian IV’s orthodox Protestantism. An aging minister, Absalon, marries Anne, a much younger woman – even younger than Martin, Absalon’s son from his first marriage. Tyrannised by her stern mother-in-law, Anne falls in love with Martin. Meanwhile, an old woman, Herlof’s Marte, is convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Absalon refuses to save her like he saved Anne’s mother when she suspected of witchcraft. Anne begins to think she has inherited her mother’s occult powers. When Absalon dies shortly after she wishes him dead, she is weighed down by guilt and finally confesses that she killed him with sorcery.

The film’s sombre tone is underscored by its slow, deliberate rhythm and many quietly circling camera movements. Whether the camera is moving or still, every frame is lovingly composed, suggesting Dutch paintings (especially Rembrandt’s) in bare, whitewashed walls, black outfits and atmospherically designed shadow effects. The film depicts a world where puritan religion has such a merciless grip on people’s minds that they can only see passion and desire as the devil’s work – as witchcraft. Even those whose nature moves them to resist, like Anne, must invariably see themselves as enemies of good.

Day of Wrath premiered during the German occupation of Denmark and it’s tempting to regard this dark tale of torture and persecution as an allegory of its time. Dreyer, however, rejected any such interpretation. The film was based on a Norwegian play from 1908 and by all indications he had long been planning to adapt it for film. When the film opened, it was met with disappointment: people found it too slow, too gloomy. Only later was Dreyer’s chiaroscuro study of the psychology of self-repression acknowledged as an undisputed masterwork of Danish and international cinema.


Production company Palladium
Distributor  Film-Centralen-Palladium
Censorshiop classification  Allowed over the age of 16
Release date and place 13.11. 1943 / World Cinema 
Based on  The play "Anne Pedersdotter" (1908) by Hans Wiers-Jenssen.

Direction by

Carl Th. Dreyer  Director 
Ebba Dreyer Scripter


Carl Th. Dreyer  Screenwriter
Mogens Skot-Hansen Screenwriter
Poul Knudsen Screenwriter
Paul la Cour         Hymn Writer

Produced by

Tage Nielsen  Producer 

Cinematography by

Karl Andersson  Director of Photography

Sound by

Erik Rasmussen  Sound
Ole Mørck Sound Assistant
Knud Kristensen Sound Assistant

Editing by

Edith Schlüssel  Editor
Anne Marie Petersen Editor

Music by

Poul Schierbech  Composer
Erling Bloch Violin solo
Hans Kassow Viola solo

Production Design

Erik Aaes  Art Direction
Lis Fribert Designer of Decorations and Costumes


N. Sandt Jensen  Costume Designer
Olga Thomsen Costume Designer


Kai Uldall  Historic Consultant 


Thorkild Roose Absalon Pederssøn, Parson
Lisbeth Movin  Anne, Absalon's Wife
Sigrid Neiiendam Merete, Absalon's Mother
Preben Lerdorff Rye  Martin, Absalon's son of first marriage
Albert Høeberg Bishop
Olaf Ussing Master Laurentius 
Anna Svierkier Herlof's Marte 
Preben Neergaard     Parish Clerk
Dagmar Wildenbrück  
Emilie Nielsen  
Kirsten Andreasen  
Sophie Knudsen   
Harald Holst  
Emanuel Jørgensen  
H. Chr. Sørensen

Carl Th. Dreyer



Other titles 
Vredens Dag (DK - original title)
Anne Pedersdotter (working title)
Dies Irae (alternative title)
Tag des Zorns (DE)
Jour de Colere (FR) 


Running time 
105 min.

Technical data 
35 mm - 1,37:1 - b/w - sound



Dreyer's script in Danish

Film clip



Photos: On the set


Set design