Leaves from Satan's Book

Carl Th. Dreyer, Denmark, 1921

134 min.DK/FeatureSilent films

In four episodes, we witness how Satan (Nissen), accursed by God, must walk the Earth and tempt men to do evil; he can only hope to be delivered from his curse if someone resists him, but few do.Episode 1 tells the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, enticed by Satan in the guise of a pharisee.
Episode 2 takes place in 16th-century Spain; Satan is a grand inquisitor, who manipulates a young, tormented monk into comitting an ugly rape. Episode 3 takes place during the French Revolution; a young man who has the opportunity to save Marie Antoinette from the guillotine allows her to be executed, because she reminds him of a misdeed he was tempted to commit by Satan, now a Jacobin leader.
Episode 4 is set during the Finnish civil war in 1918. Here, Satan is a defrocked monk leading a bolshevik rabble. He threatens to kill the family of Siri, a telegraph operator, if she does not send a message luring the Whites into an ambush, but she resists and kills herself rather than turn traitor.

Carl Theodor Dreyer learned the craft of filmmaking at Nordisk, writing titles, adapting novels and plays, and editing most of the company's features from 1915 to 1918. His talent was recognized, and he was given a large budget to make this film, the biggest production of the year 1919.
Dreyer was not satisfied with the available resources, however, and he left the company in anger after completing the film. Yet, even though the script is unbalanced (the complicated French episode sags), this grandly conceived film impresses through its inquisitive close-ups, its austere and unembellished sets, its tight editing, and its carefully centered compositions. The script was written in 1913 by Danish author Edgard Høyer (the final episode was originally set during the Russo-Japanese War); it was an original work and (despite the claim in many credit lists for this film) owes nothing whatever to Marie Corelli's 1895 bestseller, The Sorrows of Satan, filmed by D. W. Griffith in 1926.

Basic information Credits Materials
Original title Blade af Satans Bog
Danish title Blade af Satans Bog
International titles Blätter aus dem Buche Satans, Zwischen Liebe und Hass, Leaves out of the book of Satan, Feuilles du journal de Satan, Feuilles arrochés au livre de Satan, Feuilles du livre de Satan, Hojas del diario de Satanás, Blad ur Satans bok, Blade av Satanas bok, Pages out of the book of Satan
Other titles Blade af Satans Dagbog
Director Carl Th. Dreyer
Screenplay Edgard Høyer, Carl Th. Dreyer
Director of Photography George Schnéevoigt
Production designer Axel Bruun, Jens G. Lind
Appearance Helge Nissen, Halvard Hoff, Jacob Texière, Erling Hansson
Production country Denmark
Domestic distribution Fotorama
Technical info 2900 meter, 35 mm, 1,33:1, Black/white, Silent
Danish theatrical release 24.01.1921
Cinemas Palads Urpremiere i Norge, Victoria Teater (Oslo), 15. november 1920.
TV release 03.02.1964, DR
Find more Vore Herrer: 1920 nr. 8 og 1921 nr. 2 og 4
Vore Damer: 1920 nr. 4 og 9
Mogens Brandt: Carl Th. Dreyer in Soc.Dem. 13.11.1943
Eric Danielsen: Jeg er egentlig ikke... in Land & Folk 08.12.1946
Åke Bengtsson: Ny syn på gammel film in Biografbladet vinter 1948.
Casper Tybjerg: 'Red Satan. Carl Theodor Dreyer and the Bolshevik Threat' in J. Fullerton & J. Olsson (ed.): Nordic Explorations - Film before 1930, p. 19-40.
Danish rating Allowed for all
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Production company Nordisk Films Kompagni
Domestic distribution Fotorama


Direction Carl Th. Dreyer


Script Edgard Høyer
Script Carl Th. Dreyer


Cinematography George Schnéevoigt

Production design

Production design Axel Bruun
Production design Jens G. Lind


Satanas (I-IV) Helge Nissen
Jesus (I) Halvard Hoff
Judas (I) Jacob Texière
Johannes (I) Erling Hansson
Don Gomez (II) Hallander Hellemann
Isabella, Don Gomez' datter (II) Ebon Strandin
Don Fernandez, Isabellas lærer (II) Johannes Meyer
José, hushovmester (II) Nalle Halldén
Grev Manuel (II) Hugo Bruun
Dronning Marie-Antoinette (III) Tenna Kraft
Grev de Chambord (III) Viggo Wiehe
Grevinde de Chambord (III) Emma Wiehe
Komtesse Geneviève (III) Jeanne Tramcourt
Joseph, tjener senere politikomm. (III) Elith Pio
Folkekommissær (III) Emil Helsengreen
Michonnet (III) Sven Scholander
Fader Pitou (III) Viggo Lindstrøm
(III) Vilhelm Petersen
Paavo (IV) Carlo Wieth
Siri, Paavos hustru (IV) Clara Pontoppidan
Rautaniemi (IV) Carl Hillebrandt
Korporal Matti (IV) Christian Nielsen
Naima (IV) Karina Bell

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Reviews and articles

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Type Source Author Date
Program - stumfilm & mikro