This is how I would introduce a newcomer to foreign classics, from most accessible to least accessible. I'm still a…
A quiet little town not far from here.
A barren soundstage is stylishly utilized to create a minimalist small-town setting in which a mysterious woman named Grace hides from the criminals who pursue her. The town is two-faced and offers to harbor Grace as long as she can make it worth their effort, so Grace works hard under the employ of various townspeople to win their favor. Tensions flare, however, and Grace's status as a helpless outsider provokes vicious contempt and abuse from the citizens of Dogville.
I’m blurting this review out just minutes after watching. Something I don’t normally do, but I just can’t contain myself, and know I’m going to have to re-watch more than once to write a proper one. Please excuse the ramblings.
Dogville has been hanging over my head for a while now. As per my usual practice, I tried to avoid any pre knowledge. All I knew is that a: it was Lars Von Trier, b: it was 3 hours long, c: it starred Nicole Kidman, and d: worst of all, it had ShakyCam. Not a good start. I have a mixed history with Von Trier, and I’ve only seen two of his films, Melancholia, which I quite liked, but was…
Holy hell. Dogville is as close to a visceral, visual depiction of pure, unfocused hatred as I have ever seen. It is not depressing, it is not sad, it's just mean. It is not misogynist, misandrist, or even anti-American; this is misanthropy, plain and simple. Here is the reduction of the flaws within every living human into their vilest essence, turning mankind into little more than, you guessed it, a dog - one that doesn't know right from wrong, and one that must be dissuaded from instinct and nature to perform in ways deemed appropriate by self-proclaimed moral superiors. Thus returns the familiar question of 'why' behind the film's production - as far as I can tell, the 'why' is…
Part lovely fable, part moral archaeology, part mirror, it delivers a scathing judgment on human nature, moral righteousness, greed and selfishness. And that isn't the half of it. An overt condemnation of consumerism, capitalism, and American imperialism, it lambasts every part of human nature exploited by capitalist societies.
It explores all of this in the form of a fable about Grace, a young woman of privilege who escapes to all-American small town Dogville, where the simple people living in hard times are romanticized to the point where Grace fails to see their human failings and forgives them anything because she owes them and because she is arrogant enough to believe that people living through hard times should be forgiven for…
I have tried to think up a review but I just can't convey my thoughts. This one is just... I mean, I liked it a great deal -- but at the same time it was horrible and made me want to die? It's a believable and slow descent into horrors, but the unconventional nature of its construction makes it almost frightening.
It's like that time I tried shrooms. It was mellow and subdued, but still terrifying.
Is any of this making any sense?
Those who remember my half a star ‘Melancholia’ review of a few weeks back know how I’m fully capable of hating on Lars von Tier, self-proclaimed legendary filmmaker with a catalogue featuring some of the strangest films (that are actually being watched) in modern history. For me to dislike something to the extent that I rate it that low, something about the movie must entirely put me off and only an extremely bad or an extremely good director can do so in my book. Lars von Tier is the latter kind of film-maker and proves to be so with this 2003 career-output: ‘Dogville’. Set forth in nine chapters and a prologue, it chronicles the years spend in the titular village…
i'm a bit more of a misanthrope after this film, and i love that. perfect casting.
When I was a naive fifteen year old, I thought it was way too unrealistic and contrived that everyone in this town would behave so shittily toward one person so unrelentingly.
Now, as a more experienced adult, in this the year of our lord 2016, it instead just felt too painfully recognizable.
ok let me get something clear: i honestly don't like lars (most of it bc he's an horrible person) BUT i really liked and appreciated this movie, the finale was epic.
The most infuriating experience I've ever had watching a movie.
There's a certain element of self-reflection, in regards to Tom's reaction to Grace's humiliation standing in for von Trier himself and how he treats his protagonists, as well as a certain amount of audience criticism by way of the old testament revenge, but mostly this is just a relentless screed against small-town America.
I doubt this would be as potently affecting for me if I were watching this back in October, but with recent events, that burning anger connects with me far more personally than it might have a year ago.
This is what I knew von Trier was capable of all along.
Class Screening, FILM 151 (UC Berkeley)
America, the Beautiful.
I refer to this a fair bit as its a painfully accurate take on the human condition.
A hard watch as the way it is shot is not conventional but I think it makes the viewer focus on the plot rather that the set
[poverty, malice, fear, ignorance, destruction]
Dark, pessimistic, humanicidal. Isn't as didactic as it is hate-filled. Yes, humanity can be ugly; No, self-destruction is not our only path.
I'd never actually seen a Lars Von Trier film before....checked this one out mainly because the concept sounded pretty cool. It's filmed entirely on a huge, mostly empty soundstage, with just outlines of houses and a few props standing in for a tiny Old West-style town. It's a fascinating gimmick that works surprisingly well, especially for certain moments, and the other aspects of the film are strong enough that you barely even notice the novelty after a while. The story is really interesting, and the cast is awesome, but it gets pretty fucking bleak as it goes on....the ending is both satisfying and sickening. Also 3 hours is a bit much to take, although I guess it held my attention throughout. Still a powerful film regardless, and it would probably hold up just as well without the unique concept....possibly even better, in some ways.
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