Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dancer in the Dark

Dancer in the Dark; drama/ musical, Denmark/ USA/ France/ Iceland, 2000; D: Lars von Trier, S: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, Peter Stormare, David Morse

Czech emmigrant Selma suffers from an inheritable disease that threatens to make her blind. The disease was inherited by her son, too. In order to afford eye surgery for him, Selma found a job in the US and started saving money. Her friend Cathy tries to help her whenever she can. One day her neighbor Bill asks some money from her, but she refuses. After that, Bill steals the money and she kills him in self defence. Selma is sentenced to death. She refuses to have a new lawyer in order to have enough money from her son's surgery and thus gets executed.

Drama "Dancer in the Dark", the final part of Lars von Trier's "Golden hearts" trilogy where heroes stay innocent even when the society imposes painful injustice on them, won the Golden Palm in Cannes and brought the main actress Bjork a nomination for a Golden Globe as best actress in a drama, for one of her only a handful of movie roles. When watching the exposition, the viewers may at first think that someone is making fun of them: the first four minutes only show abstract drawings accompanied by music, just like the experimental opening of musical "West Side Story". But once the main plot sets in, it intrigues with ease because it portraits a raw, suggestive and emotional story whereas Selma's daydreams in which she imagines to dance in a musical are a welcome refreshing ingredient in the film that breaks the 'grey' mood. One of the best moments is when the short sighted Selma has problem seeing during the night shift, but suddenly Cathy (brilliant Catherine Deneuve) shows up and helps her manage. The Dogme 95 style uses shaky, hand-held camera and grainy cinematography to create a very realistic picture, while von Trier once again leaves the viewer shocked and smashed, but never indifferent, even though he does resort to a few cheap melodramatic scenes here and there just to get a reaction.


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