Forbrydelsens Element is a 'post-modern film noir' which evokes fierce and mixed reactions when it came out. It is Von Trier's first full-length feature and the first part of the trilogy which he completed with Europa.Police inspector Fisher, whose investigation of a murder has ground to a halt, visits Cairo to see an Egyptian psychoanalyst to whom he tells his story under hypnosis. He investigates a series of murders of children who sold lottery tickets. Because the investigation stagnated, he also sought help from his former teacher Osborne, who is also involved with the inquiry. Osborne once formulated in his book Element of Crime the investigative method which states that a detective should get into the skin of the murderer. Osborne has told Fisher that a certain Harry Grey is the main suspect. After many entanglements, during which Fisher meets the prostitute Kim who functions as a guide on his quest and later also turns out to be bearing Grey's child, the film reaches the point where people, motives and murders merge into each other. Fisher's quest for the murder turns out to be a quest for his own identity.Tanks to a special procedure, Forbrydelsens Element has a golden haze in which the bright colours sometimes used have an extra strong effect. About this collage of surrealism, thriller, Orson Welles, Fritz Lang and psychoanalysis, Pam Cooke wrote in Monthly Film Bulletin: 'Forbrydelsens element might be taken as the record of a young man's obsessional fascination with, and need to reject, the great cinemas of the past and their father figures.'

International title
Element of crime
Filmmaker
Lars von Trier
Premiere
-
Country
Denmark
Year
1984
Medium
35mm
Length
103’
Language
English
Producer
Per Holst Film
Sales
Danish Film Institute Workshop
Writer
Lars von Trier