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Björk and Catherine Deneuve in Dancer in the Dark

Björk and Catherine Deneuve in Dancer in the Dark




Is it “Unique” (CNN), “Heartbreaking” (The Independent), “Riveting” (Radio Times)? Or, perhaps, “Ludicrous” (Daily Mail), “Numbing” ( or “Grim” (TV Guide)? Lars Von Trier’s low-rent, grainy tale of the Czech immigrant in the USA who is losing her sight, made according to the minimalist Dogme manifesto, won the Palme D’Or at the 2000 Cannes film festival. And even there fighting almost broke out in the audience. What got everyone’s goat was Von Trier’s decision to couple his muddy shakeycam style to the most velour of Hollywood genres – the musical – and to cast the coolest of Euro sophisticats, Catherine Deneuve, as a factory worker. Adding to this deliberate provocation is the singing of elfin popsqueak Björk, which has always split the jury. It is entirely typical of Von Trier to set out on a bold experiment and to try to work his way out of the box he’s put himself in – remember the “slaves love their masters” message of Manderlay, or Melancholia, definitely the most downbeat “end of the world” movie ever made. Remember also that Von Trier made a documentary in 2003 called The Five Obstructions, a challenge to his friend Jørgen Leth, to remake his film The Perfect Human five times, each time with a different obstruction of Von Trier’s devising. That’s what we have here. The grit in the oyster of the artistic process. But does it produce a pearl?

© Steve Morrissey 2013



Dancer in the Dark – at Amazon





imdb poster Dancer in the Dark
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Run time: 140 min
Rating: 7.8
Genres: Crime | Drama | Musical
Director: Lars von Trier
Writers: Lars von Trier
Stars: Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse
Trivia: An east European girl goes to America with her young son, expecting it to be like a Hollywood film.
Storyline Selma has emigrated with her son from Central Europe to America. The year is 1964. Selma works day and night to save her son from the same disease she suffers from, a disease that inevitably will make her blind. But Selma has the energy to live because of her secret! She loves musicals. When life feels tough she can pretend that she is in the wonderful world of musicals…just for a short moment. All happiness life is not able to give her she finds there… Written by Fredrik Klasson <>
Plot Keywords: secret, money, factory, execution, riding a freight train
Box Office Budget: $12,800,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $80,652 (Netherlands) (27 October 2000)
Gross: ESP 290,047,040 (Spain) (29 June 2001)