Even more so than The Orchid Gardener, this film anticipates Lars von Trier’s later work. The cross-wielding figure who emerges in the final shot before the end title in The Orchid Gardener appears here as “the Jew” who keeps the garden in the cloister where Menthe’s would-be mistress attempts to make her “remember” the things that they have lived together in a series of images that play with expectations about dominance. Continue reading
Lars von Trier submitted this film as part of his application to film school. Many of the aesthetic and thematic fetishes of his later feature length films (including the Dogme films and his more recent return to the ‘fantastic’ in Antichrist, Melancholia, and the forthcoming Nymph()maniac) are already evident here. The film, as its subtitle says, tells “part of the story of Victor Marse”, an artist (played by Lars himself). The only English language synopsis of this film that I’ve found is reproduced in this wiki and seems to be a poor translation of a summary written by a 12 year old. Consult it at your own peril! Continue reading
Memories of a Marriage (based on Martha Christensen’s best-selling novel, Dansen med Regitze) is a wonderful, moving and superbly acted film featuring what may be the greatest on-screen performance by the luminous Ghita Nørby, one of Denmark’s finest actresses (and a lovely person–I met her once in Seattle). The film traces the relationship between Regitze and her husband, Karl-Aage; in the present, Regitze has received devastating news about her health. Thus, much of the film is a flashback to the ups and downs of their marriage, which began when they first met under the Occupation in World War II. Regitze is a strong-willed young woman, whereas Karl-Aage seems more weak and pliable. Still, they love each other and complement. The film film slowly discloses Regitze’s carpe-diem approach to life, her own very life force. This is a not a visually stunning film (though there are some lovely touches); it is first and foremost a character study. Forget Nørby’s performance (albeit powerful) in the tedious _Hamsun_ and try to get a copy of this haunting film. I showed it to a class once, and most were in tears at the end–yet, in classic Scandinavian fashion, there wasn’t one emotionally cheap or maudlin scene in the film. Continue reading
Summary: A beautiful fugitive, Grace (Nicole Kidman), arrives in the isolated township of Dogville on the run from gangsters. With some encouragement from Tom (Paul Bettany), the self-appointed town spokesman, the little community agrees to hide her and in return, Grace agrees to work for them. However, when a search sets in, the people of Dogville demand a better deal in exchange for the risk of harboring poor Grace…
Nominally set in an American Town in the Rocky Mountains in the 1930s, DOGVILLE is shot exclusively in studio with a minimum of props.
Lars von Trier´s direction makes this film a shocking look into the disturbed mind of a woman who has been scorned and left. Medea´s revenge is horrible but never unbelievable. She does what every sane person would do, when deprived of all that she loves. The film burns itself into your mind and leaves you with a lasting impression of what human misery can be like. Continue reading
Café Paradis (English Title: Paradise Cafe) is an award-winning Danish film made in 1950, directed by Bodil Ipsen and Lau Lauritzen Jr., and written by Johannes Allen. The film received the Bodil Award for Film of the Year, and Ib Schønberg, for what is regarded his finest performance, received the Bodil Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The story illuminates the problems of alcoholism as it follows the lives of two people: one is a common workman (played by Poul Reichhardt) who drinks too much beer, and the other is a company director (played by Ib Schønberg), who believes he just needs “a little one every now and then.” They both come to face the consequences of their addictions. Continue reading
“Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen’s obsession with bizarre lighting effects reached its apotheosis with his 1920 masterpiece Witchcraft Through the Ages. Beginning in a deceptively sedate fashion with a series of woodcuts and engravings (a technique later adopted by RKO producer Val Lewton), the film then shifts into gear with a progression of dramatic vignettes, illustrating the awesome power of witchcraft in the Middle Ages. So powerful are some of these images that even some modern viewers will avert their eyes from the screen. Though obviously a work of pure imagination, the film occasionally takes on the dimensions of a documentary, a byproduct of the extensive research done by Christensen before embarking on the project (incidentally, the director himself can be seen in the film in a dual role as Satan and the Doctor) Also known as Haxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages marked a parting of the ways for Christensen and the Danish film industry; thereafter, he confined his activities to the German cinema, before answering Hollywood’s call in 1928.” — Hal Erickson (allmovieguide) Continue reading