Precious Bodily Fluids

Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)


The diegesis is overtly artificial, with no pretense at realism but does something like “cinemize” the stage. Performance and mise-en-scene are highlighted; lighting, for example, changes when the narration announces that a “change of light” came over the town. This happens two times. Sounds like doors closing are audible, although no doors exist. A fast-forward scene draws attention to the image, unlike the ultra-slow motion in von Trier’s later Melancholia. Her name is “Grace,” an ironic and cynical name for one destined to annihilate the entire world of the film. This motif of conclusion at annihilation seems to be a narrative trope of von Trier, having seen it in MelancholiaDancer in the Dark, and here. Why is his name “Thomas Edison”? Dictum ac factum,” states a sign about the coal mine, “said and done.” A disconnect exists in this world between what is said and what is done, until Grace’s final edict of death at the film’s end. She is banished to the coal mine repeatedly, until a house of her own provides temporary comfort and them becomes nothing more than a space of violation against her. Chapter intertitles break up the acts, again drawing attention to the theatrical nature of the film. A male narrator (John Hurt) seems to stand in for von Trier, who has expressed a kind of shameless interest in male dominance over women. Is it a miracle that Moses the dog survives, or is this the extent of Grace’s grace?

This entry was published on September 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm. It’s filed under 2000s Cinema, British Film, Danish Film, Lars von Trier, Swedish Film and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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