Carl Theodor Dreyer

T it.: Desiderio del cuore; T. danese: Mikaël; T. ing.: Chained (Usa), Heart’s Desire (Gb); Sog.: dal romanzo “Mikaël” (1904) di Herman Bang; Scen.: Thea von Harbou, Carl Th. Dreyer; F.: Karl Freund, Rudolf Maté; Scgf. e Cost.: Hugo Häring; Int.: Walter Slezak (Eugène Michael), Benjamin Christensen (Claude Zoret, il maestro), Nora Gregor (principessa Lucia Zamikoff), Alexander Murski (Adelsskjold), Grete Mosheim (Alice Adelsskjold), Robert Garrison (Charles Switt, critico d’arte), Max Auzinger (maggiordomo), Didier Aslan (duca di Monthieu), Karl Freund (Leblanc, commerciante d’arte), Wilhelmine Sandrock (arciduchessa di Monthieu); Prod.: Erich Pommer per Decla-Bioscop der Universum-Film A.G. (Ufa) 35 mm. L.: 2056 m. D.: 90’ a 20 f/s. Bn.


T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Though Michael is a German production, many of the main people involved were Danish. The story is adapted from a novel by the famous Danish writer Herman Bang (wrongly spelled “Hermann Bong” in the titles), the main character (the painter Claude Zoret) is played by the charismatic filmmaker Benjamin Christensen, and Carl Theodor Dreyer directed the film. The Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen therefore had a particular interest in making sure the film was restored and preserved. The restoration was supervised by the DFI at Digital Filmlab in Copenhagen as a joint venture between the DFI and the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau- Stiftung, Wiesbaden, and the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin.

Thomas C. Christensen, Danish Film Institute


“Now I may die content, for I have seen great love.” This is not, as one might suspect, a quotation from Gertrud, but from Michael, made in 1924 and probably the first of Dreyer’s films that one can watch today without having to make allowances for its age or status as an apprentice work. (…) Considerably becalmed by comparison with the Herman Bang novel from which it is adapted, Michael is about an elderly painter, Claude Zoret, who adores the young pupil he has adopted first as his model and then as his son, and is closely structured on the theme of loneliness. The fantastically elaborate fin de siècle sets designed for Zoret’s house and studio by Hugo Häring, an architect who had never worked in the cinema before and never did again, become a dank, airless hothouse in which Zoret watches helplessly as Michael drifts away from his exotic love into an affair with the even more exotic Princess Zamikoff. (…) It is a tricky subject, skating perilously close to melodrama and absurdity, but Dreyer manages to weave a rich sub-structure of genuinely rich emotion, clothed by excellent performances from his cast (…). At the time, in a simile which delighted Dreyer, Michael was likened by contemporary German critics to a Kammerspiel or chamber play… Michael is perhaps Dreyer’s first masterpiece, assured, reticent, and radiant with subtle inner connections. (…)

Tom Milne, The Cinema of Carl Dreyer (Tantivy Press, 1971)


Copy From

Restored in collaboration with

Digital Filmlab

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From a camera negative re-edited in the 1950s by DDR Staatliches Filmarchiv