zentropa

"you're so good and understanding. i find that... a little provoking."


 

i saw this film many years ago as a film student and in my mind it's always been my favorite lars von trier film. i remember being taken by the unusual visual style which is quite graphic. rewatching it now i see that the film operates as a sort of collage where black and white, color, rear projection, text, and double exposures are employed to create the anxious psychological state our hero finds himself in the moment he sets foot in post-war germany.

the year is 1945 and germany is in shambles. the american occupation and german's culpability are both at the center of a complex historicizing of guilt, redemption and what lies between. as we have now come to expect, von trier seems to have an ax to grind against american hypocrisy, and he wields this ax like a sledgehammer. but what is more interesting is that he asks us to think about what it means to take sides for better or worse and how in war, brutality and survival are often one and the same.

bonus: in 1991 at the cannes film festival, "upon realizing that he had not won the Palme d'Or, von Trier gave the judges the finger and stormed out of the venue."

 

stills from lars von trier's 1991 zentropa [europa]