Forms of the Intangible: Carl Th. Dreyer and the Concept of 'Transcendental Style'

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The book Transcendental Style in Film, written in 1972 by future film director Paul Schrader, offers perhaps the most extensive analysis of how a particular film style might have a specifically religious significance. The article provides a critical discussion of Schrader’s theory, with a particular focus on the films of Carl Th. Dreyer. Schrader’s ideas are compared to alternative explanations of the same stylistic features provided by David Bordwell and Torben Grodal. The article concludes that while Schrader identifies a number of pertinent stylistic features, the ‘transcendental film’ is better understood as a subset of the art film mode. Torben Grodal’s description of the intertwined effect of a salient (often abstract) style and thematic content indicative of higher meaning, coupled with the contribution of a suitably disposed spectator, is, the article argues, more plausible than Schrader’s analysis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Media Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)59-73
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Dreyer, Carl Th., Schrader, Paul, religion and film, transcendental style, film style, cognitive film theory, film theory

ID: 9250335