454 Europa

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lazier than a toad
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#26 Post by lazier than a toad » Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:58 pm

domino harvey wrote:
lazier than a toad wrote:At the same time I am not sure I would not describe a movie I felt was misogynist as great, without feeling misogynist myself.
Misogynist films are said to be great in spite of their misogyny. So many canonical films are misogynistic that excluding them is to exclude most of cinema.
But isn't that in some way misogynist?

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domino harvey
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#27 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:06 pm

lazier than a toad wrote:
domino harvey wrote:
lazier than a toad wrote:At the same time I am not sure I would not describe a movie I felt was misogynist as great, without feeling misogynist myself.
Misogynist films are said to be great in spite of their misogyny. So many canonical films are misogynistic that excluding them is to exclude most of cinema.
But isn't that in some way misogynist?
Recognizing misogyny is not misogynistic in itself, and neither is still enjoying those works-- again, we live in a male-centric universe and most films reflect that either overtly or subtextually... I consider myself to be quite feminist and yet even I see that the most interesting works of art to discuss and study are those that are flawed in some sense.

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#28 Post by Tribe » Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:19 pm

lazier than a toad wrote:I am not sure you can take anything that happens in a von Trier, or that he says in an interview (did you see the one where he pretends/claims he hypnotised the whole cast and crew of Europa?) film on face value. To me they all reek of irony in a kind of self and audience hating way - the end of Obstructions or the whole of the Idiots seem like the clearest examples. And that seems to be very sadistic (as well as masochistic) and deeply arrogant, but never really misogynist. He never condones, glamourises, trivialises or marginalises the suffering of his women characters - he makes it disgusting, but in a way that exaggerates something of a reality (not denying it). Hence I would argue that his films are overall constructive not destructive/misogynist, despite often being hard things to watch.
I think the claim about hypnotizing a character was made in regard to Epidemic...the last scene. I'm not entirely certain he really did, or had her hypnotized throughout the scene.

We can agree to disagree about the degree of misogyny in Breaking the Waves, but I do agree with you that he does feel contempt or despises his audience. Perhaps hating his audience is just a variation on the theme?

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#29 Post by macaca » Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:29 am

breaking the waves is one of the best films of the 90s.
along with dancer in the dark & dogville, its hard not to admire von trier.
although ive yet to see this, im quite pleased about the news.

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#30 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 4:55 am

Tribe wrote:I think the claim about hypnotizing a character was made in regard to Epidemic...the last scene. I'm not entirely certain he really did, or had her hypnotized throughout the scene.
According to the commentary they hired a real hypnotist and his assistant so the hypontism itself was 'real', but they also gave them some guidelines on what they wanted the theme of the hypnosis to be (about a historical plague, that kind of thing) so they riffed on that also.

Also they took the lady in and out of hypnosis so they could apply the different stages of plague makeup.

"We all fall down! We all fall down! Aaarrgghhh!"

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#31 Post by lazier than a toad » Wed Oct 31, 2007 6:02 am

Yeah I understand that bit about the hypnotism in Epidemic.

But this documentary is a seperate thing, I am almost certain about Europa. It is clearly a joke, or at least I hope so, but is also consistant with the personality he displays through his films. I think it might be 'The Making of Europa' (or possibly one of the other films in the trilogy) or the other doc on the Tartan trilogy disc / boxset.

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#32 Post by pro-bassoonist » Sat Nov 03, 2007 3:03 am

I absolutely adore this film. Is there any rumored date at all? I would be very interested to see what extras come up with this set...as I already own two versions of it.

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#33 Post by kekid » Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:51 am

I do not like Zentropa. I think it is a film whose surface is so dazzling that one might overlook there is no substance within.
I think Breaking the Waves would have been a far better Von Trier choice for Criterion.
I have found it confounding that Von Trier greatly admires Carl T. Dreyer. I consider Dreyer to be a candidate for the greatest filmmaker of all time, whose greatness lies equally in style and substance. Dreyer's spirituality is in stark contrast to Von Trier's contempt for various elements of humanity. However, I consider Von Trier's admiration for Dreyer genuine, and the final scene of Breaking the Waves a touching tribute.
With Vampyr, La Notte, and Salo waiting in the wings, Zentropa is a distraction.

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#34 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:46 pm

Von Trier also paid tribute by using Dreyer's cinematographer of Ordet and Gertrud, Henning Bendtsen, to do the amazing photography for Europa and the film within a film in Epidemic.

I would agree, kekid, about not being entirely certain about the philosophy behind the decision of why to shoot things the way he did in Europa. It seems a bit arbitrary at times, or at worst flashy, overcomplicated visuals for their own sake that at times overwhelm rather than compliment the film. But I don't think there was meant to be that much 'within' in the first place - the visuals feel like the primary driving force of the film, not really the plot (this is even more so with Element of Crime) - because of that it makes a kind of sense that he went to completely the opposite extreme with his Dogme style films that focused on, albeit simple, plots to the expense of careful framing and editing (though I also find the rough Dogme style quite beautiful and artificial in its own way, and like the abrupt edits that often have extreme changes in sound levels. More the signifiers of off hand, amateur filmmaking than amateurly shot films for real!)

Von Trier himself said something to the effect that after Europa there was nowhere further he could really go with that kind of artificial style, and it probably was that quest to reach the outer boundaries of representation that is the most interesting aspect of Europa, and was something that was very present in the short Nocturne (with its strange line of sight editing techniques) and The Element of Crime. One of the best things (and also criticisms) that could be said about Von Trier's early films is that they look stunning with their uses of old techniques in strange and unique ways.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:13 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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#35 Post by mmacklem » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:59 pm

On the whole topic of the disputed misogyny in von Trier's films, I've always kind of considered the screenplays of the films in question (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville) to almost consist of a laboratory experiment in writing an incredibly strong female character, and seeing what stimulus is required to break them, similar to a scientist taking a lab animal and doing all sorts of physical experiments to find the limits on their physical behaviour.

With that in mind, I think it's possible to come out of any of these films with both an incredible admiration for the female characters at the core of these films, while also hating the intentions of the filmmaker for putting them through everything they've experienced. One question that comes out of it is to what extent one comes with the other, if our admiration for the female characters are specifically tied to seeing their strength and endurance. And to me that's the most interesting and troubling part of these films is how they force us to think about the relationship between the hardships someone is forced to endure and our admiration for them, which is understandable as a sufficient condition but troubling as a necessary condition.

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#36 Post by justeleblanc » Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:01 pm

I agree that visually the film is very strange, but in terms of substance I loved it. The film is about an idiotic American who's simplistic and optimistic in his understanding of foreign affairs and when he gets into the shit, it pretty much destroys him.

It in itself may be a simple concept, but watching it in a post-9/11 college class when all my classmates were self-appointed scholars on how to solve the mid-east fighting.... the film pretty much bitch slapped them.

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#37 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:12 pm

justeleblanc wrote:The film is about an idiotic American who's simplistic and optimistic in his understanding of foreign affairs and when he gets into the shit, it pretty much destroys him.
I agree with this and with mmacklem's thoughts about the 'broken hearts' trilogy. All the 'Europe' films have that same idea running through them. By starting with this kind of overall philosophy and his manifestos for a film (or film trilogy), I think that frees von Trier up to play around with the style, or carefully managed supposed lack of it, in his films.

I got the same kind of impression from The Five Obstructions. It felt as if long before Jorgen Leth was set his tasks von Trier had planned every aspect out in detail, from his unimpressed reactions to each of the films Leth made to the wonderfully touching final about face. Then he gets to making the film and is able to watch it play out like clockwork. There is real warmth and emotion there but it is at a distance because the emotion of coming up with the tasks and the final challenge was done at a remove rather than being a spur of the moment thing von Trier thought up on the spot, though he plays it that way - it feels like anti-improvisation in some ways and I found it actually caused a greater emotional response than any piece of overly emotional improv!

While I still have no real evidence for this being his intentions, I'd still like to imagine Manderlay summing up the 'Europe' films and Dogville doing the same with the 'Broken Hearts' films, made all the more interesting by having the same main character go through both philosophies.

It also seems that the US(A?) trilogy marks von Trier's entry back into artificiality (but bringing some of the techniques he has acquired from his 'narrative above all' era with him - hey! just like Van Sant!) and the new world of CG techniques that maybe may allow him to push further past what he achieved in Europa?
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#38 Post by justeleblanc » Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:18 pm

In thinking about the over-the-top visuals of Zentropa, they don't completely come out of nowhere. If we are to buy into the theme that we are hypnotized and the entire film is some strange dream state, then surely the strange juxtaposition of 40s film stock and contemporary special effect are just a reflection of that. How is it any different that Fellini's surreal visuals in 8 1/2 or Juliet? Or maybe both directors have taken the easy way out.

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#39 Post by Jeff » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:30 pm

Announced for December.

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#40 Post by Narshty » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:34 pm

So, aside from the Howard Hampton essay, if you have the 4-disc Europe Trilogy boxset there's nothing new at all on here?

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#41 Post by AlexHansen » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:45 pm

Narshty wrote:So, aside from the Howard Hampton essay, if you have the 4-disc Europe Trilogy boxset there's nothing new at all on here?
The commentary is new (or at least different).

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#42 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:49 pm

AlexHansen wrote:
Narshty wrote:So, aside from the Howard Hampton essay, if you have the 4-disc Europe Trilogy boxset there's nothing new at all on here?
The commentary is new (or at least different).
No, that commentary was in the boxset too but the one thing missing is the select scene commentary in English between von Trier, Udo Kier and Jean-Marc Barr. It sounds like it would be much better than it actually is unfortunately (and I was really looking forward to it since Kier's commentary on Flesh For Frankenstein/Blood For Dracula was so fun), so you are not missing anything particularly enlightening.

Apart from that everything else is present and correct. The Trier's Element film and Europa - The Faecal Location were contained on the fourth supplement disc of the Electric Parc boxset rather than the Europa disc itself.

Looking through the supplements the big addition appears to be:
2005 interviews with cinematographer Henning Bendtsen, composer Joachim Holbek, costume designer Manon Rasmussen, film-school teacher Mogens Rukov, editor/director Tómas Gislason, producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen, art director Peter Grant, actor Michael Simpson, production manager Per Arman, actor Ole Ernst
As an aside, Mogens Rukov has a small role in Element of Crime.

Michael Simpson was also in Epidemic as the taxi driver having a fit of giggles and as the priest in the film within the film. Perhaps he might be best known for his role as the hospital janitor/voodoo practicing Haitian from the two series of The Kingdom.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:19 am, edited 7 times in total.

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#43 Post by Narshty » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:50 pm

AlexHansen wrote:
Narshty wrote:So, aside from the Howard Hampton essay, if you have the 4-disc Europe Trilogy boxset there's nothing new at all on here?
The commentary is new (or at least different).
Well I suppose it could be, but the Europe Trilogy set also has a commentary by von Trier and Peter Aalbæk Jensen in Danish with subtitles (see here).

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#44 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:04 pm

Trier's Element is a great addition - the latter sections focus on the initial stages of Dimension, von Trier's film he proposes to be shot in stages over 30 years. I've no idea whether he's still keeping up with it, but it's interesting seeing them filming with Barr, Kier and Eddie Constantine, who handles a request to incorporate footage from his funeral when he dies into the film with remarkable grace!

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#45 Post by AlexHansen » Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:32 am

I took a quick peek at the back of the box and it didn't mention the Trier/Jensen track, hence my mistake. The funny thing is I looked at the DVD Times review to check up on the docs, but ignored the discussion of the commentaries. Ah well. And I agree that the loss of the track with Kier and Barr isn't all that devastating. I don't remember much of it other than it being very dull.

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Re: 454 Europa

#46 Post by cdnchris » Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:29 am


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Re: 454 Europa

#47 Post by Murdoch » Sat Nov 29, 2008 3:52 pm


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Re: 454 Europa

#48 Post by piano player » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:22 am

Ernst-Hugo Jaregard is priceless as the conductor in this movie.

Come to think of it, I actually prefer the von Trier aesthetics of Europa and his eariler movies, it is certainly more effective than the headache 'dogme' stuff he became obsessed with later, anyway.

Great film on every single mark, kudos to Criterion for realising it. (Although the commentary on the region 2 release is funnier).

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Re: 454 Europa

#49 Post by Rich Malloy » Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:22 pm

piano player wrote:Ernst-Hugo Jaregard is priceless as the conductor in this movie.

Come to think of it, I actually prefer the von Trier aesthetics of Europa and his eariler movies, it is certainly more effective than the headache 'dogme' stuff he became obsessed with later, anyway.
Jaregard was a wonderment, certainly, but I can't agree with the rest! In fact, I think "Idioterne" (his only "true" dogme film) is one of his most successful in all respects: cinematically, philosophically, as a social critique or strictly in terms of ensemble acting. I find it to be simultaneously among his most experimental films and his most emotionally affecting. And I consider "Breaking the Waves" and "Dancer in the Dark" to be at nearly the same high level.

Tastes differ, eh? No great pronouncement, certainly, but what surprises me most about your rejection of LvT's middle period "headache inducing obsessions" is that it requires you to dismiss Ernst-Hugo Jaregard's towering achievement as Stig Helmer, the jerkwad Swedish physician navigating the Danish scum in "Riget". Few performances are so emblematic, so memorable, so hateful and hilarious - and certainly greater than anything Jaregard accomplished in "Europa". And Trier's first hand-held, DV foray into what soon would be distilled and refined into the tongue-in-cheek tenets of dogme-95 remains among his most accessible and successful works. It's the first time Trier seems to have acknowledged humanity - if not exactly generously, then at least in all its petty, messy reality - and this series and his subsequent films seemed finally to emerge from that hermetically-sealed cocoon of solipsism that always struck me as a distancing effect without any real purpose. More a reflection of a certain callowness on Trier's part than an aesthetic.

Which isn't to say there's not a lot to admire in that first period. But as much as I like that initial trio, they are in too many ways derivative of the genres they appropriate and simultaneously too embalmed in a formalizing aesthetic to evoke that certain "breath of life" that separates a transcending work of art from an exercise in form. I'm certainly not denying that the later films aren't constructions of a rigid formalism of another kind, just that the middle and later eras tend to be more successful for my tastes, more emotionally generous, more organic, more multi-faceted in their realization and multi-valent in meaning. And, yes, I include even the late-era Brechtian pantomimes, which mark - among other things - Nicole Kidman's final performance as species Homo sapiens before completing her metamorphosis into the brittle, porcelein mannequin that slowly rotates before the camera today.

If you haven't seen "Riget", then you owe it to yourself to wade into it's dingy DV, hand-held reality - heachaches be damned - if only for the gobsmacking brilliance of Jaregard's Dr. Helmer.

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Re: 454 Europa

#50 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:06 pm

Rich Malloy wrote:And Trier's first hand-held, DV foray into what soon would be distilled and refined into the tongue-in-cheek tenets of dogme-95 remains among his most accessible and successful works. It's the first time Trier seems to have acknowledged humanity - if not exactly generously, then at least in all its petty, messy reality - and this series and his subsequent films seemed finally to emerge from that hermetically-sealed cocoon of solipsism that always struck me as a distancing effect without any real purpose. More a reflection of a certain callowness on Trier's part than an aesthetic.

Which isn't to say there's not a lot to admire in that first period. But as much as I like that initial trio, they are in too many ways derivative of the genres they appropriate and simultaneously too embalmed in a formalizing aesthetic to evoke that certain "breath of life" that separates a transcending work of art from an exercise in form. I'm certainly not denying that the later films aren't constructions of a rigid formalism of another kind, just that the middle and later eras tend to be more successful for my tastes, more emotionally generous, more organic, more multi-faceted in their realization and multi-valent in meaning.
I think the conventional approach has been to comment on the hyper-stylised atmosphere of the early films compared to the lack of style of the Dogme films. Beside considering that the handheld style of Idioterne, Breaking The Waves and Dancer In The Dark is as carefully managed and manipulated as anything in Element of Crime or Europa (I've seen enough truly incompetently made films for the achievement of the Dogme groups visuals and editing strategies to be apparent. As much as I like Festen, I can understand the criticism that it uses the carefully managed lack of film technique to add a layer of resonance to a relatively conventionally plotted family drama), I think the major change is more the move from considering actors as posable dialogue delivery devices used only as elements that contribute to the visuals inside the larger picture being created to foregrounding the input and performance from actors to create the emotional resonance of the film, with the only real focal point being the human face.
If you haven't seen "Riget", then you owe it to yourself to wade into it's dingy DV, hand-held reality - heachaches be damned - if only for the gobsmacking brilliance of Jaregard's Dr. Helmer.
I completely agree, The Kingdom and its sequel mark the transition from perfect style to handheld faux-reality beautifully, combining shakey cam with special effects. If you are not bothered about the work being unfinished (since Järegård and then Kirsten Rolffes died before the third part could be made), it is a very satisfying series - far better than that atrocious US remake by Stephen King, Kingdom Hospital.

The only other film I have had the chance to see Ernst-Hugo Järegård in so far is The Slingshot, a far more conventionally made coming of age tale. He plays the nasty schoolteacher to perfection and certainly brings the mannerisms you would expect to the role - and it may save you from shakey cam headaches!
And, yes, I include even the late-era Brechtian pantomimes, which mark - among other things - Nicole Kidman's final performance as species Homo sapiens before completing her metamorphosis into the brittle, porcelein mannequin that slowly rotates before the camera today.
I must disagree with this - she was in Birth as well!

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