Björk‘s award winning performance as Selma the Czech immigrant, a single mother working in a factory in rural America. Her salvation is passion for music, specifically, the all-singing, all-dancing numbers found in classic Hollywood musicals. 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.
When a desperate neighbor (David Morse) falsely accuses Selma of stealing his savings, the drama of her life escalates to a tragic finale.
Von Trier divested himself of modern fashions in plotting. “Dancer in the Dark” is a brave throwback to the fundamentals of cinema–to heroines and villains, noble sacrifices and dastardly betrayals.
The relatively crude an d austere visual look underlines the movie’s abandonment of slick modernism, in lieu of the machinations of factory work and locomotives. Dancer In The Dark is the type of movie that you will either love or hate, or love to hate.
It is also the kind of movie that you feel the need to ease yourself into, by watching a bit at a time.
The Von Trier Effect
There is something addictive about the movies of Lars Von Trier and granted I haven’t seen all of Von Triers movies, the ones that I have seen have had an visceral impact that lingers, that is thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and spellbinding
As Selma, Björk aims right for the heart and aces her target with pinpoint accuracy, embracing an emotional range as compelling and varied as her music. Anyone who doesn’t shed a tear during the final i/3 rd of the movie doesn’t have a soul.
Movies written and directed by Lars Von Trier are like works of art that demonstrate that film as a medium, is capable of evolving.
WHAt bothers me is that many critics of Von Trier’s movies blame his use depression as a theme.
“This is 2.5 hours of pure depression…(Melancholia)” or in the case of the movie Dancer In the Dark: “the climax: with the last scene is almost unbearable.”
It shocked the Sh!t out of me as well.
But that’s what many of Von Trier’s movies are supposed to do! They are meant to be gut and heart-wrenching. They are supposed to make you cry. Make you feel and drain you mentally, emotionally, and, sometimes even physically. It’s not unbeararable though, because you need to see what happens next.
Again in the case of Dancer in the Dark when Björk sings that last song, there is pure misery backing it up – it really gets to you. And when the song gets cut off…. it becomes one of the most shocking endings to a movie I’ve ever seen
Though probably not the most depressing movie I’ve ever seen, Dancer In The Dark is definitely one of the most heart wrenching movies ever made.