Slapstick 2017

Master of the House U

By turns funny and deeply affecting, Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer’s story of a housewife who, with the help of a wily nanny, turns the tables on her tyrannical husband, is a deft and a richly detailed tragi-comedy of domestic manners and gentle revenge.

In the Frandsen household, Mrs Frandsen, Ida, toils from dawn to dusk, while her tyrannical husband, Viktor, requires constant attention and complains about everything. Viktor’s old nursemaid, Mads, is appalled at Viktor’s persistent rudeness. With Ida’s health in tatters, she is persuaded to move back in with her mother for a while leaving Mads to take over the household, bringing disquiet and discomfort into Viktor’s well-structured daily life. But after a month of Mads’ disciplining, Viktor has learned to be gracious and accommodating. Missing his wife, Viktor is desperate to be reunited with his beloved – but not before he receives the mother of all talking-to’s to ensure that his past behavior has been permanently reformed.

Before he gained international recognition with his monumental masterwork The Passion of Jean of Arc, the genius of Carl Theodor Dreyer was evident in this ahead-of-its-time examination of domestic life. An enormous box-office success in its day, this jewel of the silent cinema combines lightness and humor with Dreyer’s customary meticulous craft and sense of integrity.

With an introduction by BAFTA award winning film editor Don Fairservice and with live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.

With thanks to the BFI.