Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
An American, Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) goes to post-war Germany in 1945 to work as a railroad conductor for the Zentropa Rail Line instead of going into the Army because he feels its a more valuable thing to do for the state of the world. He meets Katharina Hartmann (Barbara Sukowa), the daughter of the railroad owner and they fall in love.
Above all else, Europa is an unforgettable movie. The look, feel, and sound of it all are lifted directly from Hollywood melodrama and film noir of the '40s and '50s, and (aside from a few moments of graphic violence and language) could feasibly trick future generations into thinking that it was made half a century before it actually was. The techniques used, though old Hollywood staples, have long since fallen out of favor and thus the reminder of how well they can be used is gleefully awe-inspiring. The only mark that this did come from Mr. anti-Hollywood himself is the theme of idealism as a detriment instead of a virtue. That dichotomy of old and new, and the overwhelming feast…
''You will now listen to my voice. My voice will help you and guide you still deeper into Europa.''
My cycle of Lars von trier revisits are proving to be an enriching exercise, not only in the new value I am placing on the man's art, but in also recognising the influences infused into his films. Like Tarkovsky fused with Hitchcock and a dash of The Third Man thrown in for good measure, Europa or Zentropa (depending on which patch of the Earth you reside in), is a confident yet boldly experimental wartime noir that draws you into it's intrigue firstly with the baritone hypnotic tones of Max von Sydow's narration and then with the astounding visual buffet that is…
Dogville is still my favorite of Von Trier's work and there's a sort of kinship between that film and this. Both have an incredibly unique and mysteriously artificial visual style that I love. Both are also rather slow and ponderous (like most of the director's films), so I think it's pretty likely that I'll come back to this in a year or so and enjoy it even more. Like many great films it clearly has layers, some of which I felt unable to fully appreciate. It's a beautiful and intriguing look at post-war Germany, and as a decided non-expert in history I greatly enjoyed not knowing where the truth ended and the fiction began.
Europa is easily the best von Trier film I've had the pleasure of watching so far. It does so many things right it's hard to pinpoint what exactly makes it such an absorbing experience, and in the end it seems to always come down to commenting on just how brilliant the craft behind it is. It's in many ways a truly beautiful film with dazzling imagination at work but perhaps the best achievement and what really holds it together is the deeply sympathetic and yet conflicted main character von Trier created. His innocence and ideals are faced with the corruption and horrors of a collapsed country. Used and abused, his initial humanity slowly fades.
Grim and at times downright shocking but with shreds of beauty scattered throughout, Europa is an enigmatic and frequently stunning work of a director at his peak of imagination.
"When I count to ten, you will be in Europa..."
Europa (released in the USA as Zentropa to avoid confusion with a film called Europa Europa) is an early work from Danish director Lars von Trier, before he'd go on to make films for which he would be accused of misogyny. A political thriller evocative of classic melodramas from the 1940s, it tells the story of an American who moves to Germany just after the end of the Second World War to work as a sleeping car conductor for a train company called Europa, in order to help with the rebuilding of the country. He falls in love with the daughter of the company's owner, and is subsequently involved in…
This is Von Trier at his most assured, most confident, most playful, most restrained.
A film that blends everything you want in a film and more into a compact and beautiful looking 110 minutes, summarising everything both good and bad about the director, this is the first film where his talent really shines - and perhaps the apex of his career so far.
This is Von Trier making a traditional musical minus the music, a noir without the stereotype, a melodrama without the ridiculous acting associated.
Lars von Trier must be an interesting person to speak with. This movie is basically drenched in this droll irony that makes me wonder what I'm really supposed to think about it. The visual style of the work suggests something melodramatic and old-fashioned, which directly contrasts its hardened and cynical view of the world. It takes place in what should supposedly be a war free time period, yet the war brutalities are not only abundant, but conducted mostly by Americans, who we see as the heroes, while the Nazis are kind of supposed to be sympathized with. The two main characters get married, even though we as an audience can see that they hardly feel anything for each other, and…
Would that Max von Sydow narrate all of my fever dreams. I love this movie.
Gorgeous and haunting.
You will now listen to my voice.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
No end of Lars Von Trier's borrowed aesthetics thrown into a post modernist blender can compensate for the lack of emotional engagement in Europa. It is such a studied exercise in 40's and 50's romantic noir homage and revisionist political cynicism that there is simply no room to care about Jean Marc Barr's Leo or Barbara Sukowa's Kat. To be fair, Barr's casting gives us another of his blank men (following as it does on the heels of Luc Besson's The Big Blue), so washed is his performance of any personality. If this was a deliberate effort by von Trier to draw the viewer into Leo's skin, paralleling the invitation to hypnotic projection and dream investment in as much as…
Completely weird and unique film by Lars Von Trier about an American who emigrates to Germany at the end of WWII to become a sleeping car conductor.
He falls in love with a "Werewolf" agent/femme fatale who involves him in a scheme to blow up a train.
Filmed with fascinating style using both black and white as well as color cinematography.
Still, despite the films many achievements the artistic success remained questionable and the story was somewhat convoluted to say the least.
Should hold interest for fans of the director to see such a personal film before his Dogma 95 movement.
With its noir-influenced and insanely overwrought visual style and hypnotist voice-over, Lars von Trier's Europa is certainly ambitious, but it unfortunately revels in empty stylistic flourishes for the sake of base effect than any kind of deliberate, probing point. These indulgences nearly cause the film to collapse in on itself, the over-abundance of gimmicky (albeit gorgeous) renderings of classic expressionism overwhelming any sense of profundity, emotional impact, or narrative drive the film attempts to cultivate. It doesn't help that several of the performances come off as stilted and uncomfortable, especially those of actors attempting to play Americans.
Largely enjoyable spoof/homage/rip-off of immediate post-war noir from von Trier. Occasionally (and inevitable) it's a little too smug for its' own good but the opaque plot still holds the interest, as do a parade of genre-savvy character turns, some dazzling imagery and the hallucinatory narration.
Extremely beautiful, well made. Still brings the usual cruelty and coldness of Von Trier's cinema...Von Sidow narration makes it all odder.
A big collection of films that might be considered as strange, mindfucking, surreal and weird. Sorted by year. Suggestions are…
Many favorites, as well as a small handful of films that I don't care for... in no particular order (1960-2014).