Lars von Trier

Lars VON TRIER (1956, Denmark) started making short films in 1976, after a film study at university. From 1979 to 1982 he studied at the Danish film school. The Element of Crime (1984) was Von Trier's first full-length feature. On hearing his name, most people will immediately think of his Dogme 95 manifesto.

Filmography

The Trip to Squash Land (1967, short), Good Night, Dear (1968, short), A Dead Boring Experience (1969, short), A Chess Game (1969, short), Why Try to Escape from Which You Know You Can't Escape from? Because You Are a Coward (1970, short), A Flower (1971, short) Orchidégartneren/The Orchid Gardener (1976, short), Menthe la bienheureuse (1979, short), Nocturne (1980, short), Den sidste detalje/The Last Detail (1981, short), Befrielsebilleder/Image of Liberation (1982, short), Forbrydelsens element/The Element of Crime (1984), Gateway Europe (1985, short), Medea (1987), Epidemic (1987), Europa (1991), Riget/The Kingdom (1994, TV), Breaking the Waves (1996), Riget II/The Kingdom II (1997, TV), Idioterne/The Idiots (1998), Dancer in the Dark (2000), Dogville (2003), The Five Obstructions (segment The Perfect Human: Avedøre, Denmark, 2003, doc), Manderlay (2005), The Boss of it All (2006), Chacun son cinéma/To Each His Cinema (segment Occupations, 2007)

Lars von Trier at IFFR

Epidemic

Epidemic

Epidemic is the second part of the trilogy which also consists of Forbrydelsens element and Von Trier's latest film Europe. All three films are programmed in the festival. After making his trilogy, Von Trier have each section a key word. The first film is in his opinion 'non-organic in its substance', the second, Epidemic, is 'organic' and the last must be above all 'conceptual'. According to Von Trier, at the moment when you make it, a film should be like a stone in your shoe; you should have to think about it all the time. It symbolises his obsessive way of making films; nothing is self-evident in making a film. For instance in this film he uses for the first time techniques such as cross-cutting, pans and tilts, but he approaches these techniques with great distrust. He needed them to realise the less restrictive aesthetic form. After Forbrydelsens element he wanted to leave the form of the restriction and the sobriety behind him. Epidemic is, it would appear, partly made without technicians; the camera is said to have turned for at least a third of the time without a cameraman. Von Trier regards this approach as a way of achieving an intimate atmosphere and peace of mind during shooting.îFor the fictional parts of the film - which unlike the rest wee shot on 35 mm - Von Trier is he says very grateful to cameraman Henning Bendtsen (who has shot 52 films, including Ordet and Gertrud by Carl Dreyer). Epidemic was given several mottos including one by Olaf Ussing: 'To get old is wonderful - think of the alternative' and one by Udo Kier: 'Mir ist es egal wer das Ticket zahlt'.

Lars von Trier
  • 106'

  • Denmark

IFFR 1992

Europa

Europa

A feature film of which the technical design has amazed many viewers. Philippe Vecchi wrote in Libération that the film must comprise at least three million visual ideas. With the aid of background projection, double takes and the use of colour in the black & white film, Von Trier evokes a terrifying world. He sews confusion and plays a virtuoso game of uncertainly in his story and images. Part of this confusion captured in stunning images is that the film can be described as melodrama as comedy.Location is Germany just after World War Two. The country is in ruins and groups of fascists are still active (the werewolves). A young American of German descent, Leo Kessler, has come to Europe to help build a new world. His idealism is sorely tested when, working as a night-time conductor in the train, he meets Katherina, who is involved with the werewolves and daughter of the railway company Zentropa.Von Trier admits openly in a post-modern way his preference for and reuse of old film genres. For instance Europe includes elements of Orson Welles, Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock. The title Europe is derived from the book America by Franz Kafka. The authors of the screenplay (Von Trier himself and Niels Vorsel) allowed themselves to be inspired by the book. They wanted to make a kind of reversed version: not with aEuropean in America, but with an American in Europe. However even more important is that they wanted to evoke the specific mood of Kafka.Europe forms a trilogy with the films Forbrydelsens element / The element of crime and Epidemic.

Lars von Trier
  • 113'

  • Denmark

IFFR 1992

Forbrydelsens element

Forbrydelsens element

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.'

Lars von Trier
  • 103'

  • Denmark

IFFR 1992