The Word

(Carl Th. Dreyer, DK, 1955)

Morten Borgen is a farmer and a man of faith who awakened his region to Christianity in the spirit of Grundtvig. He has three sons: Mikkel, Johannes and Anders. Mikkel, who works the farm and is married to Inger, does not share his father’s faith. Johannes, once a student of theology, has lost his mind. Anders wants to marry Anne, the tailor’s daughter, but her family belongs to the Inner Mission, which is irreconcilable with Grundtvigianism, and so the young lovers can’t wed. Inger dies giving birth to a stillborn son. The calamity softens the two stern fathers and they give Anders and Anne permission to marry. Inger’s daughter, Maren, and Johannes, who has regained his sanity, pray by Inger’s casket for God to bring her back from the dead – and a miracle happens.

Dreyer had wanted to adapt Kaj Munk’s play Ordet ever since he saw it performed in 1932, but he only succeeded 23 years later. The film was shot in Vedersoe in West Jutland, where Munk was a pastor. The wild natural scenery lends the film tremendous authenticity, dramatically framing the families inside their tiny rooms with exposed beams. Dreyer constructed the film from long setups in combination with simple, yet intricate camera movements – a complex rhythm creating a visual purity and realism that become the strongest imaginable counterpoint to the action. Also because the miracle of resurrection is expressed with such earthy, realistic simplicity and concentrated emotional intensity. The resurrection scene remains one of the great, magical moments in cinema history.

The Word is regarded as one of Dreyer’s most important and best films. It was also his biggest commercial success, winning more acclaim and awards than all his other films combined. The Danish and international press all but unanimously hailed it as a masterpiece. A few critical voices in theological circles questioned the film’s miracle and the propriety of treating issues of Christian faith in this manner. Among other awards, the film won three Bodil statuettes (for best film and best actress and actor, Birgitte Federspiel and Emil Hass Christensen), the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the American critics’ Golden Globe Award.


Production company Palladium
Distributor  Film-Centralen-Palladium
Censorship classification Children under 16 prohibited
Release date and place 10.1.1955 / Dagmar 
Based on  The play Ordet by Kaj Munk (1932).

Directed by

Carl Th. Dreyer  Director
Jesper Gottschalch Assistant Director
Karen Petersen Assistant Director


Carl Th. Dreyer  Screenwriter

Produced by

Tage Nielsen  Producer
Erik Nielsen Production Manager

Cinematography by

Henning Bendtsen  Director of Photography
John Carlsen Camera Operator
Erik Wittrup Willumsen Camera Operator

Lighting by

Ove Hansen  Gaffer

Sound by

Knud Kristensen  Sound 
Kai Gram Larsen  Sound Assistant 
Henning Møller  Sound Assistant

Editing by

Edith Schlüssel  Editor 

Music by

Poul Schierbeck  Composer 

Production Design

Erik Aaes  Art Direction
Lauritz Fuglsang Set Assistant
Viggo Staal Set Assistant
Helge Bille Set Assistant
Bruno Fuglsang Set Assistant


N. Sandt Jensen  Costume Designer 


Roma Jensen  Make-up Artist


Svend Poulsen  Dialect Consultant 
Lise Munk  Consultant


Henrik Malberg Morten Borgen at Borgensgaard 
Emil Hass Christensen  Mikkel, Borgen's eldest son
Preben Lerdorff Rye Johannes, Borgen's second son
Cay Kristiansen  Anders, Borgen's youngest son
Birgitte Federspiel Inger, Mikkel's wife
Ejner Federspiel Peter, the tailor 
Sylvia Eckhausen         Kirstine, Peter's wife
Gerda Nielsen Anne, Peter's daughter
Ove Rued The pastor
Henry Skjær The doctor
Hanne Ågesen         Karen, the servant at Borgensgaard
Edith Thrane  Mette Maren
Ann Elisabeth Groth Hansen Maren, Mikkel and Inger's daughter
Susanne Rud Lilleinger, Mikkel and Inger's daughter

Carl Th. Dreyer

Release year 


Other titles 
Ordet (DK - original title)
Das Wort (DE)
Le parole (FR)


Running time 
122 min.

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


Dreyer's script in Danish.

Film clip



Photos: On the set

Ground plan