Chicago Sun Times
For the ordinary filmgoer, and I include myself, "Ordet" is a difficult film to enter. But once you're inside, it is impossible to escape. Lean, quiet, deeply serious, populated with odd religious obsessives, it takes place in winter in Denmark in 1925, in a rural district that has a cold austere beauty.
The film is one of only four major features by Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889-1968), who although he made many short films, was able to make only one feature each in the 1920s ("The Passion of Joan of Arc"), the 1940s ("Vampyr"), the 1950s ("Ordet") and the 1960s ("Gertrud"). That was enough to place him first among all directors in the minds of such as Lars von Trier and the critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, and to make him (with Ozu and Bresson) the focus of Paul Schrader's influential 1972 book Transcendental Style in Film. His "Joan of Arc" is often named among the 10 greatest films of all time.