Lars von Trier
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Lars von Trier (born Lars Trier, April 30, 1956) is a Danish film director. He is closely associated with the Dogme95 collective, calling for a return to plausible stories in filmmaking and a move away from artifice and towards technical minimalism, although his own films have taken a variety of different approaches. Danish film in the 1990s was dominated by Lars von Trier. His films Europa, Breaking the Waves, The Idiots, and Dancer in the Dark received great international attention and were nominated for numerous awards. Von Trier's 2000s Dogville was a radical departure from the naturalistic rules of Dogme 95, and instead the film invented a completely new style that draws from the theatre but yet remains eminently cinematic.
Lars von Trier has said that “a film should be like a rock in the shoe”. In order to create original art he feels that filmmakers must distinguish themselves stylistically from other films, often by placing restrictions on the filmmaking process. The most famous restriction is the cinematic "vow of chastity" of the Dogme95 movement with which he is associated, though only one of his films, The Idiots, is an actual Dogme 95 film. In Dancer in the Dark, dramatically-different color palettes and camera techniques were used for the "real world" and musical portions of the film, and in Dogville everything was filmed on a sound stage with no set where the walls of the buildings in the fictional town were marked as a line on the floor.
Von Trier often shoots his scenes for longer periods than most directors to encourage actors to stay in character. In Dogville he let actors stay in character for hours, in the style of method acting. The rules and restrictions are a break from the traditional Hollywood production, though directors such as Robert Altman have long been using such techniques of working with actors. These techniques often put great strain on actors, most famously with Björk during the filming of Dancer in the Dark. Like many auteurs, he uses the same regular group of actors in many of his films. Some of his frequently used actors are Jean-Marc Barr, Udo Kier and Stellan Skarsgård.
He is heavily influenced by the work of Carl Theodor Dreyer and the film The Night Porter. He was so inspired by the short film The Perfect Human directed by Jørgen Leth that he challenged Leth to redo the short five times in feature film The Five Obstructions.
- The Element of Crime (1984, part one of the "Europe" trilogy)
- Epidemic (1987, part two of the "Europe" trilogy)
- Europa / Zentropa (1991, part three of the "Europe" trilogy)
- Breaking the Waves' (1996, part one of the "Golden Heart" trilogy)
- Idioterne / The Idiots (1998, part two of the "Golden Heart" trilogy)
- Dancer in the Dark (2000, part three of the "Golden Heart" trilogy)
- Dogville (2003, part one of the "USA: Land of Opportunity" trilogy)
- De fem benspænd / The Five Obstructions (2003)
- Manderlay (2005, part two of the "USA: Land of Opportunity" trilogy)
- Direktøren for det hele / The Boss of It All (2006)
- Antichrist (2009) post-production
- Wasington (shelved indefinitely, part three of the "USA: Land of Opportunity" trilogy)