Dancer in the Dark

May 17, 20078:30pm

Dancer in the Dark is the third film in Lars von Trier’s Golden Heart Trilogy – the previous two were Breaking the Waves (1996) and The Idiots (1998). The story centres on Selma (Björk), a Czech immigrant to the US, who works in a factory but has a degenerative eye condition. She is determined to hold onto her job so that she can save enough money to secure an operation for her son who will otherwise inherit the same condition and go blind. She daydreams about being in a musical and song provides a thread throughout the film. However, she is rapidly losing her own sight and this contributes, via a rather convoluted route, to her killing her landlord and her subsequent arrest and execution.

The film was shot with a hand held camera, in the Dogme 95 style. Dancer in the Dark premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to standing ovations and controversy and was awarded the Palme dOr, along with the Best Actress award for Björk. The soundtrack for the film, released as the album Selmasongs, was largely created by Björk. The song I’ve Seen It All was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.

Björk gives a great performance – there’s magic in it — but perhaps due to von Trier’s punishing demands she says she won’t act again. As Selma, she sings, I’ve seen it all/There is no more to see. Nonsense. You’ve never seen anything like Dancer in the Dark. Peter Travers. Rolling Stone

Dancer in the Dark is not like any other movie at the multiplex this week, or this year. It is not a well made film, is not in good taste, is not plausible or, for many people, entertaining. But it smashes down the walls of habit that surround so many movies. It returns to the wellsprings. It is a bold, reckless gesture. And since Bjork has announced that she will never make another movie, it is a good thing she sings. Roger Ebert. Chicago Sunday Times.

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Film Information
Release year: 2000
Running time:   140 mins
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Language: English
Country: Denmark
Classification: U
Genre: Drama
Starring: Björk Gudmundsdottir,
Catherine Deneuve,
David Morse,
Vladica Kostic,
Cara Seymour,
Peter Stormare

Cannes Palm d’Or winner and Best Actress (Björk)

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