Apr 30, 2008

4th May 2008 : Screening of Dancer in the Dark

Dancer in the Dark

A Film By Lars von Trier
Year : 2000
Run time : 140 min
English with English sub titles
Ashwin Hospital Auditorium
4th May 2008;5.45 pm
Call 94430 39630

“ I’ve seen it all; there's nothing left to see." These words are sung, with keening defiance, by Selma, a Czech émigré working in a factory and raising her son alone somewhere in Eisenhower-era America, who is going blind from a hereditary disease. Her response to the impending loss of her sight is a joyful shrug: "To be perfectly honest, I really don't care."

The song — written by the Icelandic pop singer Bjork, who plays Selma, and Lars von Trier, the Danish director of "Dancer in the Dark" — expresses a sentiment that seems to attack the most basic foundations of the movie, indeed of cinema itself, which is after all an art built around the miraculous act of seeing. For Selma, music represents a retreat from a life that, if viewed starkly, would be unbearable.

Selma (Björk ) is a Czechoslovakian immigrant, a single mother working in a factory in rural America. She lives in a trailer on the property of a local policeman, Bill (David Morse), and his wife, Linda (Cara Seymour). Selma's best friend is Kathy (Catherine Deneuve), and she is courted by the shy, undemanding Jeff (Peter Stormare) Her salvation is her passion for music, specifically, the all-singing, all-dancing numbers found in classic Hollywood. Selma harbors a sad secret: she is losing her eyesight and her son Gene stands to suffer the same fate if she can't put away enough money to secure him an operation.

The musical numbers, which take place in Selma's imagination to the found music of machinery, train wheels and her own heartbeat, were shot with 100 stationary digital video cameras.

Over the course of more than two hours the viewer is thrown from moments of harrowing realism — scenes whose jumpy rhythm and raw immediacy make you feel as if you're peeking through the window at a moment of private misery — to flights of fantastic absurdity.

Dancer In the Dark does something almost inconceivable in the way it merges two disparate genres (the musical and the tragedy), and the result represents a thought-provoking, emotionally resonant, and innovative cinematic experience.

Lars Von Trier

Lars Trier was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. The young Lars found in cinema an outlet to the outside world through which he could learn about subjects. He began making his own films at the age of 11 after receiving a Super-8 camera as a gift from his mother and continued to be involved in independent moviemaking throughout his high school years.

In 1979 he was enrolled in the Danish Film School. During his time as a student at the school he made the films Nocturne (Nocturne, 1980) and Image of Liberation (Befrielsesbilleder, 1982), both of which won Best Film awards at the Munich Film Festival, along with The Last Detail (Den sidste detalje 1981). His peers at the film school nicknamed him "von Trier." He graduated from the film school in 1983.

After his graduation he began work on the Europe trilogy, which started with The Element of Crime (Forbrydelsens element 1984). He has made 32 films since and has received numerous international awards and honors for his films.

Von Trier often shoots his scenes for longer periods than most directors to encourage actors to stay in character. In Dogville he let actors stay in character for hours, in the style of method acting. The rules and restrictions are a break from the traditional Hollywood production. In order to create original art Von Trier feels that filmmakers must distinguish themselves stylistically from other films, often by placing restrictions on the filmmaking process.

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