The parson's widow

Based on a novella by the Norwegian writer Kristofer Janson (itself taken from an actual event of the early Seventeenth century), this enchanting film tells the story of a young parson who preaches an electrifying sermon to rout his rivals and win his first livning in a country village, only to discover that he also inherits the previous incumbent's widow, Dame Margaret, an ancient lady who has already buried three parson-husbands.

Reluctantly he agrees to the marriage, but consoles himself by persuading Dame Margaret to hire his girl friend, whom he introduces as his sister, as a maid in the parsonage. Frustrated by the constant vigilance of Dame Margaret, the young lovers set about doing away with her, but eventually realise with bitter regret that they have misjudged her. (Excerpt from The Cinema of Carl Dreyer, 1971, by Tom Milne).