Skip to main content

Forms of the intangible: Carl Th. Dreyer and the concept of transcendental style

Buy Article:

$10.35 plus tax (Refund Policy)


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 Schraders theory, with a particular focus on the films of Carl Th. Dreyer. Schraders 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 Grodals 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 Schraders analysis.

Keywords: Carl Th. Dreyer; Paul Schrader; cognitive film theory; film style; religion and film; transcendental style

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Copenhagen.

Publication date: June 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook was first published in 2002 and places particular emphasis on film, television and new media. The yearbook, although carrying a theme each issue, welcomes a broad range of articles along with shorter review pieces.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more