I personally chose Karl Emil Franzos’s novel, because it offered an opportunity to try new ways. The manuscript called for acomplicated flashback technique which made the screenplay seem enormously clever and ‘original.’ I think I was quite proud when it was done. But I was anything but proud when I saw the final cut of the film. I found the Chinese box system of the flashback technique cumber some and ‘pretentious.’ I have never used flashbacks since. (...)
As for the sets, I tried to have them reflect the personalities of the people who lived in them, while I also strove towards simplification. In those efforts I was – as anyone can plainly see – guided by painters like Hammershøy [sic] and Whistler, and as far as the cast was concerned I managed to push through that all old persons in the film be played by elderly actors who were the same age as their characters, and in minor roles rather a good character than a poorly masked actor giving off an unmistakably [sic] odour of beard and makeup. This seems obvious now, but in 1917/18 it meant a break with established customs and traditions.
Carl Th.Dreyer, Letter to Erik Ulrichsen, 11.3.1958