Dancer in the Dark review by Adan Alva

Films are created to entertain audience, but some movies give the audience a disturbing feeling after watching them, due to the genre. Dancer in the Dark is onead of those types of films that gives the audience a disturbing feeling since it is a musical drama film. This film was directed by Lars von Trier, a Danish film producer, and was released in 2000. This film has many emotional scenes and the dull cinematography helps add depression to this film. Dancer in the Dark has a very depressing mood to and it is showed through the protagonist and plot of the film. Trier does a phenomenal job of bringing all the cinematography, actors, plot and setting of the film to make it have a saddening, emotional, feeling to this musical dramatic film. Dancer in the Dark should be labeled with a viewer discretion due to its disturbing emotional scenes and its heartbreaking ending.

Dancer in the Dark is about Selma Ježková, a Czech immigrant woman, who moved to the United States with her son. Selma, played by Björk, has a degenerative eye condition that causes her to lose her eye sight. She works at a factory and daydreams about musicals since it is her passion. Selma participates in a local theater where she is the main star but with every passing day, her eye sight worsens. Since she lives in poverty, she cannot afford to give her son presents for his birthdays nor give him items he desires, causing him to steal. He gets in trouble with the police, but luckily Bill, played by David Morse, gets him, and takes him to Selma’s job. Selma gets furious with her son and tells him to not get into trouble and focus on school because school is the most important thing. Kathy, Selma’s best friend and played by Catherine Deneuve, assists Selma in everything she can due to her poor eye sight. Jeff, played by Peter Stormare, is deeply in love with Selma and tries to help her in every way he can but is rejected by Selma because she wants to be independent. Bill and Selma have a great relationship up until about the middle of the film when they get a little too confident with each other. They exchange secrets with each other revealing their problems. Little does Selma know, that she just revealed something that would change her life and sets the depression of the film. Bill tells Selma that he is in debt due to his materialistic wife spending more than his salary and that the bank is going to take his house if he does not pay them. Selma tells Bill about her vision problem to comfort him, but he takes advantage of her vision as he pretends to leave her house, watching were she keeps her savings. Bill ends up stealing Selma’s savings. Selma finds out that someone stole her savings and walks to Bill’s house to get it back. She walks in finds Bill’s wife and askes where Bill is. Eventually she finds Bill and tells him to give back the money, but Bill refuses. After they fight for the money, Bill ends up getting shot and he tells Selma to kill him. Selma ends up killing Bill and his wife calls the police. Selma then collects her money and heads to a hospital where they will operate on her son, so he won’t have the same vision lose as her. Selma gets arrested, is found guilty for the murder, and sentenced to be hung. Before Selma gets hung, she gets informed by Kathy that her son had the operation and will be able to see. Selma then gets filled with enjoyment and happiness and sings a song before she is eventually hung.

Throughout this film there was many scenes that were depressing. The film had dull cinematography which sets the gloomy setting. Most of the film coloring were cool colors and it only had better coloring when the musicals of the film were performed. The film already started out depressing and gloomy to the audience when Selma was introduced, a nearly blinded woman living in poverty. As her eye sight worsens, the director of the theater in which she participates, hires an understudy to learn her part. In this scene we see that Selma is hurt that she needs an understudy, since she has been practicing for a while in the theater. When Bill takes Selma’s money and does not give it back, it gives the audience a disturbing feeling because Bill uses it to feed his selfish needs. Bill knows Selma’s vision is worsening and he takes advantage of her and to add fire to the flame, he makes it seem like she went to steal the money from him. He gets her in trouble and without shame does not tell his wife the actual situation they are living in. Selma does everything for her son and what makes this more depressing is that she does not tell the true about what really happened because of the promise she made with Bill. During the courtroom hearing, Selma makes up a lie about sending money to her father and gets caught in the lie by Bill’s wife’s lawyer. The trail is unfair with her defendant incapable of doing anything to help her. The most depressing part is when she sacrifices her own life so that her son can be able to see. She gets a better lawyer but does not want to pay him, so that the money could be used for her son’s operation. Selma ends up getting hanged for trying to save her son from losing his sight. The music, the cinematography, and the emotional scenes set the depressing plot of the film, in which Trier does a phenomenal job of putting them all together.

Dancer in the Dark is a musical dramatic film with a depressing, emotional plot that can be disturbing to some viewers. Trier mixes dull coloring with heartbreaking scenes to set the gloomy plot of the film. Selma’s story was devastating causing mixed emotions. The musicals in the film help lighten up the mood but they do not change the fact that it was depressing. Over all the film was a pleasure to watch, leaving the audience with sadden emotions.

Dancer in the Dark review by Alec Wooden

For its sheer audacity, for its intimidating acting and pseudo-disaster, Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark must be one of his most senseless films ever. It also must be the most shallow and manipulative. Every little thing about it is senseless. The fake naivety and improbability of its plot, and the mysterious little bonehead grin on the face of the victim heroine. The victim heroine is played by Bjork who is a squeaking, chirruping diva.

Selma, who is a poor Czech migrant assembly line worker in a residential community of America. She rations each penny to raise her blind child without the help of anyone else. Sometimes she wanders off into fantasy land and sings musicals she likes. Every time she does this it just so happens that people start to sing with her. Björk’s job expects her to be relatively visually impaired too, wearing a couple of coke-bottle focal points that make her eyes look much more minor and piggier than normal. The director tries to make us feel bad for this whimsical charcter throughout the whole movie.

The acting doesn’t get much better either. I truly do not think it does. This film is one of a kind in a sense that it tries to get so much out of the audience. This film relies heavily on the audience filling in the wholes and making sense of the movie instead of being self supportive and logical.

All things considered, nobody’s questioning the rough assurance with which Dogme’s very own PT Barnum conveys his unusual ignitable ambush on our feelings. Be that as it may, his story seems to have been copied from a 12-year-early’s English homework. Poor Selma is going visually impaired! Her poor child Gene is going visually impaired also! Also, she’s doing without and setting aside cash in a tin box for Gene’s “activity”. Without a doubt this is stolen from her by an evil policeman. Standing up to him and recovering her cash prompts savagery and catastrophe. Waiting for capital punishment, Selma discovers that a legal advisor can get her off. she can’t acknowledge his assistance since his expense happens to be proportionate to the cash she hasfor Gene’s medical procedure. So the plot does not confront the most superficial assessment. There is the easygoing murkiness about the idea of this eye issue and the fundamental therapeutic “task”. There is no talk whatever of the dad of Selma’s child.

This film is unrealistic and silly. I relies too much on the audience. This is a great movie if you want to be unnecessarily sad and depressed for no reason. I do not recommend watching this film.

Dancer in the Dark review by Douglas Fairnot

While interesting in their own right, all of Dancer in the Dark‘s genre-bending experimental tendencies are used in the service of a tale that packs an enormous, old-fashioned emotional punch. Few movies are this emotionally potent. If you cry easily at films, be warned.

Dancer in the Dark won the Palm d’Or for Best Picture at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, and also secured for its lead actress, pop singer Björk, the Best Female Performance award. It is a most unusual film: a melodrama, shot like a documentary, in which characters break out into song and dance as in a musical. It’s not even shot on film, director Lars von Trier opting to use digital video instead, sometimes employing as many as 100 cameras at once to capture a scene.

The story components will be comfortable to anybody with a passing information of melodic drama. Selma is a Czech settler who has come to America to pursue a fantasy. Unbeknown to everyone around her, she is going visually impaired, an intrinsic infection that she knows her child will inevitably succumb to without remedial medical procedure, something she works extended periods in an industrial facility work in the desire for paying for. An admirer of musicals, she now and then escapes her day by day drudgery by envisioning she is featuring in her very own melodic, making a romanticized reality in which she can sing, move and see, where the issues of this present reality just have no importance. Be that as it may, similarly as she is near sparing the sum required for the activity, occasions take a dim and in the long run sad turn.

Everything turns out badly for Selma throughout everyday life and in that court. She escapes into her adored melodic classification, and all the generally horrid members in the preliminary start to move to the tune she sings. It sounds absurd, but Bjork and Gray make one feel the emotion—not a poignancy of the real world but rather the tenderness put away in our screen recollections of every one of those musicals that von Trier is deriding.

This drama does not stop in the court. We pursue Selma to jail, where she is become a close acquaintence with by a lady monitor (a youthful Janet Reno, stern yet kind). Selma has abandoned her twice-earned cash at the center where her child is to have his task. Sparing his sight will finish her solitary reason throughout everyday life. Be that as it may, her uncomprehending companions find where the cash is and need to utilize it to pay a decent legal counselor to spare her from execution. With all their sensible counts about her best advantages, they are prepared to pulverize the individual they want to spare. Questionable of the result, Selma sings and moves her by means of dolorosa to the hangman’s tree joined by the protect. The story moves definitely to her execution with each desire for pardon falling flat. At that point, at the time before she passes on—the vision of expectation—Kathy breaks into the execution chamber to hand Selma her child’s eyeglasses; he has had a fruitful task and didn’t really needs them. A snapshot of satisfaction and amazing quality goes before the device entryway opens. Von Trier’s screenplay is a series of buzzwords that draws its poignancy from those exceptionally platitudes—not from reality but rather from the medium it derides. The passionate power that influences individuals to sob in Dancer in the Dark comes not from its reality but rather from its specialty. We sob above all on the grounds that Bjork, either in light of the fact that she was propelled or was constrained by von Trier, gives an execution not at all like some other I have ever observed.

Dancer in the Dark review by Evan Blake Johnson

The story begins in the American Pacific Northwest in the sixties. Selma, a foreigner from Czechoslovakia, has an inadequately paid activity in a production line. Out of the minimal expenditure that remaining parts after she has met her everyday costs, she spares each penny to pay for an eye procedure for her boy. He faces indistinguishable destiny from Selma herself—going visually impaired soon. Selma’s vision is breaking down quickly and she works like a devil to get enough cash together before her absence of vision implies she can never again work.

Selma lives with her child in a trailer ashore owned by a policeman named Bill, and his significant other. Bill finds about Selma’s reserve of cash and takes it to pay his obligations. The bank is requesting reimbursement and Bill is dreadful he could lose his better half, house and property. In a piece with Selma, she snatches his firearm, shoots and wounds him. From the floor Bill begs her to shoot and complete him off—she obliges excitedly and he passes on.

The two are then transported as though in a fantasy. As music strikes up, the perished Bill becomes alive once again. Bill and Selma are accommodated—they sing and move through the house. Bill has been reclaimed. As a result, in court, Selma feels no blame for his passing. In an agonizingly drawn out succession we go with Selma on her approach to jail and afterward at long last to the hangman’s tree. She passes on toward the end secure in the learning that her child will get his hotly anticipated activity.

I couldn’t think about an all the more discouraging plot on the off chance that I attempted. I could see why people would want to cry before the finish of the film, as I expect common audiences who are human additionally did. What was extremely pitiful was that Selma was moderately playful, in spite of the considerable number of trials life tossed at her. This appears to be so unreasonably great to me, in such a case that Selma can be like this, for what reason can’t everybody be? In spite of how innocent and aggravating Selma could be now and again, I would never have wished passing upon her, and it was sad that she got something she totally did not merit.

At long last, there was the music. Everything I can state is, I don’t realize what propelled Bjork to sing the way and what she did, yet it was unusual and not in any manner speaking to anything in me. I can’t see how the soundtrack got an Oscar gesture.

With everything taken into account, Dancer in the Dark is an okay film. I wouldn’t encourage people to watch it for amusement purposes, however I can’t deny it. The film does have a creative purpose, so I give it that. Other than that, it’s a film I don’t see myself watching again.

Dancer in the Dark review by Katelynn Aldrich

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.

Dancer in the Dark review by Roman Wippel

The Musical Defense

If you know anything about Lars von Trier, a Danish film screenwriter and director, it is safe to say that his 2000 melodrama musical film Dancer in the Dark is planned and executed through the dialogue, plot, cinematography, character, and music.
The film stars Bjork, who plays a Selma, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia working in a factory in the United States. She befriends Kathy, played by Catherine Deneuve, who learns her secret that she is going blind. The plot takes an unfortunate twist when Selma’s landlord and police deputy Bill, played by David Morse, consoles her while she helps talk him through his own struggles with his wife, Linda, played by Cara Seymour, who is materialistic, spending their money, and threatening to cause Bill to lose all that he has worked for. At the moment he shows sympathy. Selma shares a secret with Bill about her blindness and her savings for her son’s eye operation. Left with no other alternative, Bill creates a plan to steal Selma’s savings without her knowing to save himself from his financial crisis.
One evening after Selma and Bill are finished talking, Selma tells Bill goodbye and stashes her earned salary in a tin box hidden behind an iron board unbeknownst to her that Bill has not left the house, watching her stash her savings. The following day, Selma’s fired from her job for breaking a machine from a prior shift and is given her remaining salary. She finds all her money missing and runs to Bill to report the crime but learns that Bill has brought his savings box with full of money home. Connecting their conversation days before with a savings box full of cash, Selma confronts Bill of his crime. Bill tells her that the only way she will ever get the money back is by killing him. After killing Bill and taking her money back, Selma deposits her savings for her son’s surgery at the hospital to keep from the police. She is brought to trial and found guilty of the murder under first degree and sentenced to death by hanging.
Through all of Selma’s ordeal, her only concern was to give her son the opportunity at life. Many critics found the film to be silly and outright unrealistic with the musical aspect. However, I beg to differ. The film is not one bit silly because of its varying styles of cinematography or its unorthodox musical numbers. If anything, these choices only make it more provocative, tear jerking, and heart-wrenching.
Dancer in the Dark cleverly incorporates music as a drawback from the scene to communicate Selma’s thoughts and the way she perceives the world around her. The scene at the train tracks with Selma dancing on the train signifies her independence from her steadily growing blindness and her imagination to be a famous Hollywood movie star. The minor drawbacks that Selma experiences are designed to amplify her struggle to be a movie star yet is unable because of her blindness. After the dancing scene, the audience is drawn back to the reality overseeing her feeling her way on the train tracks as she heads home.
The audience encounters several more musical scenes like the train scene such as murder scene at Bill’s home. After she shoots him aimlessly several times, Bill stands up as if he rose from the dead and dances with Selma. At first, the audience might be forced to sneer at how foolish and illogical the scene is. However, I would disagree again, considering the artistic style of the film. The musical dance scene was designed to justify the murder by Selma. Her asking for forgiveness from Bill and blaming his materialistic wife for his death is a profound scene of a human soul finding comfort for just having taken a life if another human being. Bill’s spirit encourages Selma to run before the police arrive.
The musical aspect is a vital one, despite some critics feeling it is childish and silly. Lars von Trier captured the stories of protagonist and antagonist in their unique atmosphere like a novelist does with his unique character physical and personality characteristics. Protagonists, Selma and Bill lose their lives for their own reasons, but ultimately by the hands of the antagonist, Lina.

Review- The Young Karl Marx (2017)

The Young Karl Marx (2017)
4/5 stars

Directed by Raoul Peck. Starring August Diehl, Stefan Konarske, Vicky Krieps, Olivier Gourmet, and Hannah Steele.

Raoul Peck, director of the 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro about James Baldwin, has made another film about a monumental political writer who altered the way people thought about their time and society, this new one in the form of a bio-pic, set a century earlier, and all across Europe. The Young Karl Marx is a richly crafted period piece about the revolutionary German economic and political thinker Karl Marx, which Peck wisely mounted as an intimate historical drama and character study about the man and his friends, family, and detractors and their radical ideas and convictions that have been debated ever since they were written.

The film begins in the 1840s with, as the film promises, the young Karl Marx (August Diehl), befriending a fellow writer, Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske), a man who was stuck between two opposing worlds that helped shape his worldview and politics. His father was a fierce factory owner and businessman who is shown early in the film worrying about what his young factory workers’ losing fingers will do to his bottom line. While Engels comes from a wealthy background, he writes about the plights and struggles of those very workers, especially the downtrodden foreigners like his Irish wife Mary Burns (Hannah Steele). He wants to understand the working and lower class citizens and how they live, or how they barely do. Although he dresses as dapper as a man of the time can and comes from upon high, he goes down the alleyways and into the backrooms of Germany to see what makes his father’s factory and society function. From the beginning of the film Marx is portrayed as a man of principle and strong political ideals, which puts him at odds with the bourgeois society surrounding him and makes him and Engels allies right away. Marx’s mind is over flowing with ideas, which also made it hard for him to finish a paper or book, putting emotional and financial stress on his family. His wife, Jenny, played by Vicky Krieps, who was so transcendent as Daniel Day-Lewis’s muse in Phantom Thread, is a loving and supportive wife but a strong woman who does not linger in the shadows of history.

The women and the relationship between the male leads are what make the film as compelling and human as it is. Peck makes the costumes and sets feel lived-in and real, not stuffy PBS recreations of history. The film certainly deals with the political turmoil of the time, but the human interactions are what sell the characters and situations. Because the famous people are indeed young, part of the charm of the film is seeing stuffy black-and-white historical figures dusted off and trotted across bustling mid-19th century Europe. Like most people throughout history and up to the modern day, they were thinner in their twenties. Karl does not have the massive grey bush of hair sprouting from his face and head. When Karl and Jenny make love, it is tactile and sensual and in the moment, but there is a childish desire to point out that this is Karl Marx boning. He runs away from the police (in a humorous chase that is oddly reminiscent of Raising Arizona). He even vomits! These characters are human beings, not wax figures barely animated. The film’s production design and costumes are exquisite, but the real test of the craft is that while watching the film it does not feel like a posh recreation. The sweat on the brow and the dirt on the roads are palpable. The actors add a great deal to that illusion. Like with the best Shakespeare adaptations or any literature from years ago, the actors have to make the setting and dialogue immediate and real. The funny beards and tall hats and antiquated buildings have to drift away enough for the drama to spark. Those period elements are vital, but they have to aid the performances, not entomb the actors in the past.

Besides making the well-known figures human, Peck makes the film work as entertainment by striking the right balance of making the politics and theories understandable for a receptive audience but not dumbing them down or lecturing. A dilemma in making films with complex historical facts or political content is to summarize and dramatize the information in a way that does not leave the audience confused while also not having the characters deliver pat and condescending dialogue that they would never say in reality. Because the film is focused on a few years early in their lives, the relationships and ideas are in their early stages. This is Muppet Babies for the fathers of Communism. Many scenes consist of men standing in a room debating the tenets of the movement, but it remains gripping because of the personal details and relationships built throughout the film. Peck also does something that absorbing art based on true events does: he takes issues or events that the viewer may have little or no interest in or knowledge of and makes it riveting. What they are talking about may be uninteresting to some, but their passion and dedication are so compelling that it engages the casual viewer. It does not matter if one cares about the subject; one cares because of how much the characters care.

A few times it feels like a “Big Important Moment” is happening in history rather than the real life delicately rendered throughout the film. Every time they discuss what the title of their new work should be, one almost mouths, “The Communist Manifesto” in anticipation. The film also opens with an attack on some poor people “stealing” wood in a forest, hitting the audience over the head, stating too emphatically that this is not just an intellectual debate…this is people’s lives. Peck should be applauded for maintaining a reasonable approach through most of the film. One does not have to agree with Karl Marx or his beliefs to find the film worthy, just like with Steven Soderbergh’s Che Guevara bio-pic Che. It is a political film that always remains human and intelligent without being ponderous or dull.