Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Ordet (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Ordet (1955, Denmark) (aka The Word)

In Carl Theodor Dreyer's beautifully-photographed, pretentious, serious-minded, fantasy supernatural religious drama (translated "The Word") with much intellectual debate about faith, life, death, and love - it mostly told of the clash within Christianity between orthodox (or organized) religion and true or personal religious faith.

Its origins were from a 1925 play by prominent Danish playwright and Lutheran minister Kaj Munk who was executed by the Nazis during their occupation of Denmark.

  • the film was set in August of 1925 in the rural Danish farm countryside of Jutland; it followed the life of the prosperous Borgen family led by its traditionalist, stern and prominent patriarch - Morten Borgen who had three Borgen sons (in descending order of age): Mikkel (with wife Inger), Johannes, and young Anders

Morten Borgen (Henrik Malberg)
Patriarch Morten Borgen (Henrik Malberg) - the white-bearded, widowed, devout, joyless, Lutheran father - a somber and curmudgeonly member of the religious establishment who believed in a joyous and forgiving God, but also had said: "Miracles don't happen any more"

Mikkel Borgen (Emil Hass Christensen)

Inger Borgen (Birgitte Federspiel)
Mikkel Borgen (Emil Hass Christensen) - the eldest, anti-religious, unbeliever-agnostic, was married to religious, kind-hearted wife Inger Borgen (Birgitte Federspiel) for 8 years; Inger was very pregnant with a third child; she shared religious views with her father-in-law Morten, but not with her husband; Mikkel and Inger had two young daughters, Maren (Ann Elisabeth Rud) and Lilleinger (Susanne Rud)
Johannes Borgen (Preben Lerdorff Rye) - an "incurably mad" and demented 27 year-old theology student, and the black sheep of the family who after intense study and the reading of Soren Kierkegaard's writings, became crazy and began to believe that he was the resurrected Jesus Christ of Nazareth - he lost touch with reality
[Note: Kierkegaard's religious writings, most prominently his 1854-55 diatribe Attack Upon Christendom, proclaimed the theme of the inadequacy of faith, especially in Denmark's state-established Lutheran Church.]

Son Anders Borgen (Cay Kristiansen)
Anders Borgen (Cay Kristiansen) - the youngest son, regarded as emotionally-weak, and disobedient because of his love for Anne Petersen (Gerda Nielsen) - the silent and dutiful daughter of pious shopkeeper-tailor Peter Petersen (Ejnar Federspiel) and his wife Kirstin Petersen (Sylvia Eckhausen)
  • the Petersens were strict, religious fundamentalists (a non-conformist, unconventional or exclusionary, revivalist sectarian group known as Inner Mission) who rigorously and dogmatically advocated extreme and personal religious conversion, 'fire and brimstone' sermons, and emotional prostration before God

Peter Petersen (Ejnar Federspiel)

Daughter Anne Petersen (Gerda Nielsen)
  • the romantic relationship that developed between Anders and Anne had Romeo and Juliet consequences that led to warring between the Petersen and Borgen families; their two different views of faith violently clashed (the Borgens' traditional Lutheranism vs. the Petersens' fundamentalism); Morten Borgen attempted to persuade Peter Petersen to allow his daughter Anne to marry Borgen's son Anders, but Peter refused on the grounds that Anders (and his father) weren't Christians; he would allow the marriage if he could convince Morten and Anders to join his sect; he even expressed hopes that Inger would die to prove to Morten how stubborn and wrong he was to not have faith in him and be converted
  • Inger suddenly became very sick due to her difficult pregnancy; she delivered a stillborn baby, but survived the ordeal
  • while attending to Inger as she recuperated, the Doctor (Henry Skjær) visited with the new Pastor (Ove Rud) and Morten about what had saved Inger - the power of prayer or science? - "Which do you think helped most this evening? Your prayers or my treatment?" Morten answered: "God's blessing, my dear doctor"; the Pastor added: "Naturally, miracles are possible, since God is the creator of everything and everything is therefore possible to Him"; but then he mentioned how God often didn't perform miracles because "miracles would break the laws of nature and naturally, God does not break His own laws"; to the pastor, the miracle of Christ's resurrection was, on the other hand, "under special circumstances"
  • but then unfortunately, although Inger was recovering nicely and it was expected that she would survive, she died due to complications ("she drifted away in her sleep"); although all the others were stunned (especially Mikkel), Johannes responded: "She is not dead, she is sleeping"; when Johannes visited the deathbed, he fainted, but then ran away into the moors and couldn't be located
  • after learning the awful news, Peter told his wife Kirstin (Sylvia Eckhausen) that he felt apologetic for earlier having offended Morten and for not turning his other cheek
The Open Coffin for Mikkel's Deceased Wife Inger
  • a religious funeral service was held in her honor and the whole community came together at the Borgen farm; just before the funeral ceremony, Peter reconciled with Morten at the side of Inger's open coffin, and agreed to his daughter Anne's marriage to Morten's son Anders: ("Now she belongs to you all...Be gentle with her up here")
  • Mikkel was very grieved when it was suggested by Morten that the lid should be put on the coffin - because it was obvious that Inger's soul was not there but was already with God: "No, you must not take her. You must not separate us. Her body is here. I loved her body also"
  • when Johannes unexpectedly arrived at the funeral ceremony (and seemed to have lost his delusions); he asked quizzically about why everyone's faith hadn't been used to try to bring back Inger: "Not one of you has had the idea of asking God to give Inger back to you again?...All of you blaspheme God with your lukewarm faith. (To Mikkel) If you had prayed to God, He'd have listened to your prayers. (To all) ... why is there not one among these believers who believe?"; Johannes' first inclination was to let Inger remain dead: "Inger, you must rot, because the times are rotten. Put the lid on"
  • Inger's young daughter Maren tiptoed over to take Johannes' hand, and urged him: "Hurry now, Uncle"; Johannes praised Maren's childlike faith and asked her if she believed that he could miraculously restore Inger: "The child - the greatest in the kingdom of heaven...Do you believe I can do it?"; when she responded positively ("Yes, uncle") and prompted him to ask God to bring her back from death, he decided to act - and perform an amazing miracle due to her belief: ("Thy faith is great, thy will shall be done. Look now at your mother. When I say the name of Jesus, she will arise")
  • Johannes then offered a transcendent prayer: ("Hear me, thou who art dead....Is it crazy to wish to rescue life? Trust in God. Jesus Christ, if it is possible, then give her leave to come back to life, give me the Word, the word that can make the dead come to life. Inger, in the name of Jesus Christ, I bid thee, arise!")
  • Johannes' words miraculously resurrected Inger from the dead. As she came to life in her open coffin, she unclasped her joined hands, slowly opened her eyes, and kissed her husband Mikkel during an embrace; with tears in her eyes, she asked: "The child - is it alive?"; Mikkel answered: "Yes, Inger. It lives at home with God"; she asked: "With God?" - realizing that her agnostic husband was now proclaiming that he had found faith! ("Yes, Inger, I have found your faith. Now life begins for us"); she responded: "Life, yes, Life." ("Yes.") "Life" - the film's last lines of dialogue
  • in the conclusion, the miracle of resurrection had brought a new understanding of God through Mikkel's conversion to faith; this revelation also united, healed and reconciled the patriarchs of the two families: Morten Borgen and Peter Petersen; they now were in agreement with each other - Peter: "Morten, it is the God of old, the God of Elijah, eternal and the same" - Morten: "Yes, eternal and the same"

The Two Staunch Patriarchs of Danish Familes - The Borgens and the Petersens

Johannes with Inger's Young Daughter Maren (Ann Elisabeth Rud)

Inger's Difficult Birth Delivery - Mikkel with Doctor

Inger Recovering

The Pastor and Doctor Speaking About the Power of Prayer vs. the Power of Miracles

Morten, Mikkel, and Anders at Inger's Deathbed

Inger's Death Notice

Johannes Unexpectedly Arrived at the Funeral Ceremony

Johannes Borgen with Young Maren Borgen As She Professed Faith That Her Mother Inger Could be Resurrected

Johannes' Miraculous Resurrection of Inger From Her Coffin, Embracing Mikkel

Conclusion: United Families (the Borgens and Petersens): "Yes, eternal and the same"


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