In the film, Dancer in the Dark, the audience is taken on a long story of a European woman working to create a life for herself and her son. The story starts off with lead actress Björk, playing Selma Jezkova, rehearsing for a musical where she plays the lead. It’s noticeable that she isn’t the best dancer, but she is enjoying what she’s doing. She carries this passion throughout the film creating moments to enjoy through her own hardships.
The writer of Dancer in the Dark, Lars von Trier, develops Selma Jezkova into a loving and hard-working mother. He allows one to feel sympathy for her in their situation. One would see her as a mother who will do anything for her son and when it comes down to it, won’t allow anyone to get in the way of her doing so. The development of Selma shows a close relationship with her boss, a co-worker, and her neighbors that double as her landlords. She finds joy in the little things such as reading her script with her son or spending time with her neighbors laughing and having fun. Although Björk isn’t a full-time actor, she plays the role tremendously well.
Overall, the film appears to be filmed on a camcorder that would be used for home videos. One would be able to notice when the camera has transitioned to a new spot merely from the angle. The lighting is dimmed, and the quality is low even for being in production in the late 1900’s and being released in 2000. Using different camera techniques, such as using 100 different digital cameras around the set, is impressive from an audience standpoint. This technique, used to film the factory music scene, is clever; the cuts to a new angle makes it more interesting to watch. When the camera isn’t moving around it’s less distracting for a scene that already has a lot going on. Plus, with the angle cuts and the dancing, one would assume that the camera is already moving when in reality, it’s not.
The audience begins to see another side of Björk when she confides in actor David Morse, whose portraying officer Bill Houston, about her own health and her son’s future health. One would begin to feel upset or angry when David Morse asks Björk for help on his own houses rent because he can’t tell his wife no. He knows her situation and knows how her she’s working to keep up with what she needs to worry about. When he’s told no, he takes it upon himself to take advantage of her knowing that her eyesight is getting worse and worse each day, but he only worries about himself. When the film gets to this part, the audience experiences the hurt of a mother who has lost everything.
Dancer in the Dark takes a steep turn very quickly with no preparation for what happens to Björk. A mother who loses her job is betrayed by her friends and is faced with a choice no one would expect. It takes a dark turn where the audience wants to side with Björk’s character due to their hate for the betrayer, David Morse, but in a whirlwind of emotion, one wouldn’t be able to process what just happened. When one negative thing happens, it’s all downhill from there. The audience suffers from Björk while Morse taking advantage of her because he couldn’t handle his responsibilities with his wife. It’s clear that she always had one goal in mind but the extents that she went to achieve these goals were absurd. One would be able to respect she has for her child but would also have to take into consideration when it’s gone too far. It’s understanding to want to prevent a child from going through pain but, when it comes to a son losing his mother would it all be worth it?
Overall, Dancer in the Dark puts the audience into the emotions of anger, sorrow, and pain. One can admire by Björk’s hard-working and determined lifestyle but, in the end, when everything is lost none of it seems worth it. The love of a child will take someone into unknown territories and this film shows this. Björk’s love for music and for dance follows her through the film because it’s a form of expression that she doesn’t need to see to feel. She can hear the music and the tap shoes and be swept away with its beauty. One would think of the ending as her escape from a world that gets harder for an independent woman such as Björk, but the audience feels the fear and pain of the child left with no mother.