The Danish Leaves From Satan's Book (Blad af Satans Bog) was the "breakthrough" picture for filmmaker Carl Thedor Dreyer, who was elevated from a local talent to a director of international renown. The content of the film is implicit in the title: we are witness to the power of Evil through the ages, linked together by images of turning pages. In its multi-storied construction, the film is obviously beholden to D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916). Some of the vignettes, especially the Spanish Inquisition scenes, are both beautiful and repulsive; we marvel at Dreyer's brilliant visual sense, even as we have the impulse to avert our eyes. Though a worldwide success, Leaves From Satan's Book cost too much to suit the tastes of the parsimonious Danish film industry, compelling Dreyer to work in other countries throughout most of the silent era.
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