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.
"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…
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.
Interesting film. It's great to see Von Trier in his early stages. There is a much more disciplined, regimented approach to his direction in the pre-Dogme years (shots remain still, perfectly mounted and framed). The film greatly evokes the noir films of the 1940s and 50s, though Von Trier's greatest deviation is his unique incorporation of color. Very effective.
Still, this definitely did not move me in the way Von Trier's greatest works have. It is most definitely a slow moving, deliberately paced film, and I would be lying if I said there weren't moments that I checked out during. The nightmarish, Kafkaesque atmosphere does make it worth a watch though, as well as Max Von Sydow's haunting narration.
A German-American man takes a job in 1945 as a railway conductor in Germany under the American occupation, and finds that both sides want to use him as an agent. A solid, gloomy drama that turns noirish by the end, but it would have benefited from a straightforward presentation without the distracting stylistic touches (the hypnotist narrator, arbitrary changes from black and white to color).
von Trier's third, one which sorta clarifies his previous two films a bit more for me and on its own right has a hell of a heft to it. It's a conventional sort of thriller about this man caught between the Americans occupying post World War 2 Germany and the German resistance trying to force the Americans into leaving, the lead character being an American man who deserted the American military to work as a conductor and try to help the infrastructure rebuild, slowly getting pulled apart as both sides try to force him into action. It's finally really leaning into von Trier's narrative impulses he'd find himself in following this movie and he had a vicious handle on it…
Que Lars von Trier es un loco maravilloso ya lo sabemos todos. Y eso que esta es de sus más "normalitas". Este hombre cada vez me parece más brillante.
Wonderfully shot, the cinematography, the lighting, the framing, the camera techniques are all fantastic.
Lars von Trier directed this beautifully. A real edge of your seat thriller that doesn't have one single meaningless frame.
god i love lars von trier
I shall now count from 1 to 10. On the count of 10, we shall have reviewed Europa. I say 1. Lars Von Trier's finale to his Europa Trilogy focusing on crisis in Europe is aptly titled Europa. It's a more straight forward film than the director's usual fare, being more of a take on classic cinema than his others. 2. That certainly doesn't stop it, however, from being quite an experiment in time, space and even color within the medium and creating some hauntingly memorable scenes and shots.
3. Europa is very Hitchcockian. It builds tension through story and character, but is able to successfully mimic that tension visually. 4. Trust no one. Trust nothing. Anything could be as…
The cinematography here is notably closer to Melancholia/Nymphomaniac than any other von Trier at the time, which makes this (I dislike this term) neo-noir a real treat. Yep, it's self-indulgent, but I'll be damned if it isn't the most stylish Lars von Trier flick I've seen yet.
- if i said this was my favorite Lars Von Trier picture, that wouldn't be saying much. but it is.
- strong use of lines, geometric shapes and figures in black-and-white photography; lots of texture to characters and story; key sounds & musical phrases repeated to connect film passages; &c.
A kind of backwards Dogville, if on paper they sound the same: an idealist is chewed up by the unforgiving treachery of the society they enter.
In interviews, Von Trier always critiques Grace and her actions in Dogville, making it clear her killing of the entire town that brutalized her is meant to be unjust. I disagree, at least on my one viewing of Dogville. In Europa Von Trier's moral judgment of its protagonist is made obvious, rather disgustingly, in his sympathy for and interest in the pro-nazi terrorists.
According to Von Trier, at least they chose a *side*. I say bullshit.
Otherwise, Europa features some beautiful use of back projection. The changes in colour I never quiet understood, but as with even the story content of the film, maybe I'll have a different understanding after a rewatch and some reading.
But what a bore, too. At least My Winnipeg was fun!
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).