From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Europa is Lars von Trier's third theatrical feature film, released in 1991. It was released as Zentropa in North America in order to avoid confusion with the film Europa Europa (1990). Co-written by von Trier and Niels Vørsel, it tells the story of a young, idealistic American who hopes to "show some kindness" to the German people soon after the end of World War II. In US-occupied Germany, he takes on work as a sleeping car conductor for the Zentropa railway network, falls in love with a femme fatale, and becomes embroiled in a pro-Nazi terrorist conspiracy.
The film features an international cast, including the French-American Jean-Marc Barr, German actors Barbara Sukowa and Udo Kier, expatriate American Eddie Constantine, and the Swedes Max von Sydow and Ernst-Hugo Järegård.
- Jean-Marc Barr - Leopold Kessler
- Barbara Sukowa - Katharina Hartmann
- Udo Kier - Lawrence Hartmann
- Ernst-Hugo Järegård - Uncle Kessler
- Erik Mørk - Pater
- Jørgen Reenberg - Max Hartmann
- Henning Jensen - Siggy
- Eddie Constantine - Colonel Harris
- Max von Sydow - Narrator
- Benny Poulsen - Steleman
- Erno Müller - Seifert
- Dietrich Kuhlbrodt - Inspector
- Michael Phillip Simpson - Robins
- Holger Perfort - Mr. Ravenstein
- Anne Werner Thomsen - Mrs. Ravenstein
Europa employs an experimental style of cinema; combining largely black and white visuals with occasional intrusions of colour (two years before Schindler's List, which featured the same effect), having actors interact with rear-projected footage, and layering different images over one another to surreal effect.
Awards and recognition
The film won three awards at the Cannes Film Festival (Best Artistic Contribution, Jury Prize, and Technical Grand Prize). Upon realizing that he had not won the Palme d'Or, von Trier gave the judges the finger and stormed out of the venue.