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Dancer in the Dark

Dancer in the Dark

4.8 20
Director: Lars von Trier

Cast: Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse


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Reportedly the third in acclaimed director Lars von Trier's "Golden Hearts" trilogy (preceded by Breaking the Waves and The Idiots), this film is a hip reworking of the classic Hollywood Musical, starring international pop diva Bjork. Set somewhere in rural Washington state, Czech immigrant Selma (Bjork) works in a pressing plant, struggling to make


Reportedly the third in acclaimed director Lars von Trier's "Golden Hearts" trilogy (preceded by Breaking the Waves and The Idiots), this film is a hip reworking of the classic Hollywood Musical, starring international pop diva Bjork. Set somewhere in rural Washington state, Czech immigrant Selma (Bjork) works in a pressing plant, struggling to make ends meet for herself and her 10-year-old son, Gene (Vladica Kostic). Her best friend is coworker and fellow European Kathy (Catherine Deneuve). While outside work, she is maintaining a cautious friendship with local yokel Jeff (Peter Stormare). She also landed a starring role as Maria in an amateur production of The Sound of Music. Selma's life would be one of relative contentment if it were not for the ugly secret she harbors -- she is on the verge of blindness due to a genetic disorder, and her young son will suffer the same fate without an operation. Selma has quietly been stashing away money for the surgery and has already amassed $2,000. When her savings, squirreled away in a can in the kitchen, suddenly disappear, she confronts her cash-strapped landlord Bill (David Morse). Of course, like all musicals, the plot periodically takes a backseat to the seven production numbers, including a show-stopping sequence in Selma's factory. Shot entirely on digital video, the film reportedly used up to 100 cameras for each musical number. Dancer in the Dark received top prizes at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival including Best Actress for Bjork and the coveted Palme d'Or for Best Picture.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Pete Segall
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what Lars von Trier is doing in Dancer in the Dark. Is it a postmillennial paean to the social-realist musicals of industrial Russia? Is it a Douglas Sirk-esque melodrama posing as an anti-capital punishment tract (or vice versa)? Is it, like the films authored under the aegis of von Trier's Dogme 95, just a joke? The only thing for certain is that Dancer in the Dark is dramatically punishing, a film so mechanical and ruthless with its emotional fireworks that it inspires rage and tears in almost equal measures. Icelandic pop pixie Björk, with essentially no prior acting experience, portrays Selma, a single mother living in Washington State in the 1960s (rural Sweden, as the Pacific Northwest, gives an excellent performance). Suffering from a degenerative eye condition and nearly blind, Selma scrounges for money by working in a factory so her son, Gene, can undergo an operation to save his own eyesight. Selma is a terminally mousy figure -- small, myopic, and withdrawn -- whose only release is through music. In several extravaganzas, von Trier turns Björk into an Esther Williams of the woods, where she can belt out songs and frolic with utter abandon. In the real world, though, Selma finds her savings pilfered by her policeman-landlord (David Morse), and matters progress from very bad to much worse. This is not always an easy film to watch, but the performances are beyond gripping. Björk 's turn won the best actress trophy at Cannes, and Morse displays the quiet pathos that makes him one of America's most underrated actors. Von Trier's motives may be in question, but there is no doubting the result: an emotionally devastating examination of sacrifice. The slew of extras on the Dancer in the Dark DVD attest equally to Von Trier's thirst for freedom and his somewhat loony take on how to get it. In the featurette entitled 100 Cameras, he described the technique of using the alleged 100 Sony videocameras as an attempt to replicate "the transmission of a live event". The anatomy of calibrating all the cameras used during a few of Björk's tunes is fascinating, as is Von Trier when he states, "I have found that 100 cameras isn't enough. You'd need 1,000 [or] 10,000 cameras to really be free". While the director expounds on cinema that goes up to "11", the terrific extras help a viewer gauge just how close he comes.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Dancer in the Dark (2000) is nothing if not divisive, which probably pleased bad boy auteur Lars von Trier. Boldly merging two florid genres, the melodrama and the musical, with a handheld video, monophonic style (in the dramatic scenes) that is stridently drab, Dancer's ultra-soap opera, movie-literate plot and kaleidoscopically avant-garde musical interludes reveal the lie of musical fantasy while creating a sensory experience that is as powerful as it is manipulative. Waifish Selma is so tortured by her existence that she becomes a maddening confirmation of von Trier's serious issues regarding women, but Björk's ethereal, deeply felt performance infuses her victim-hood with humanity. That she comes colorfully alive in eccentric, Björk-composed musical dreams that defy death and turn her ugly life into syncopated rhythm sections comes as no surprise according to the musical's utopian legacy, yet von Trier's multi-camera, quick-cut approach constrains the choreography to emotionally true (and frustrating) effect. The shift to stereo surround sound and cinematographer Robby Müller's saturated color is exhilarating, especially in "I've Seen It All" and "Cvalda," but Selma can never sing and dance away her troubles. Indeed, von Trier tips his hand immediately when the haunting overture gives away to a clumsy production of The Sound of Music. Though the prolonged finale is von Trier at his most sadistic, Selma's bluntly shot fate is also undeniably heartbreaking. A controversial Palme D'Or winner that garnered as many brickbats as kudos, Dancer in the Dark is clearly not for all tastes, but its audacity alone is something to behold.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Archives
[Wide Screen, Color]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Two commentaries: ; 1) Writer/Director Lars von Trier, producer Vibeke Windeløv, technical supervisor Peter Hjorth and artist Per Kirkeby; 2) Choreographer Vincent Paterson; Two Featurettes: ; 1) 100 cameras: capturing Lars von Trier's vision; 2) Choreography: creating Vincent Paterson's dance sequences; Selma's music: song-by-song access; Alternate scenes; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Björk Selma
Catherine Deneuve Kathy
David Morse Bill
Peter Stormare Jeff
Joel Grey Oldrich Novy
Vincent Paterson Director
Cara Seymour Jean
Jean-Marc Barr Foreman
Vladica Kostic Gene
Udo Kier Doctor
Zeljko Ivanek D.A.
Siobhan Fallon Brenda

Technical Credits
Lars von Trier Director,Songwriter,Camera Operator,Screenwriter
Björk Songwriter
Fridrik Thór Fridriksson Associate Producer
François Gedigier Editor
Finn Gjerdrum Associate Producer
Anja Grafers Associate Producer
Peter Grant Art Director
Torleif Hauge Associate Producer
Peter Aalbæk Jensen Executive Producer
Lars Jönsson Co-producer
Karl Juliusson Production Designer
Tero Kaukomaa Associate Producer
Poul Erik Lindeborg Associate Producer
Good Machine Associate Producer
Mogens Glad Associate Producer
Robby Müller Cinematographer
Joyce Nettles Casting
Vincent Paterson Choreography
Manon Rasmussen Costumes/Costume Designer
Anders Refn Asst. Director
Sjon Sigurdsson Songwriter
Marianne Slot Co-producer
Molly Malene Stensgaard Editor
Per Streit Sound/Sound Designer
Els Van De Vorst Associate Producer
Vibeke Windeløv Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Dancer in the Dark
1. Overture [3:31]
2. Cvalda [4:08]
3. I've Seen It All [5:31]
4. Smith And Wessen / Scatterheart [7:07]
5. In The Musicals, Part 1 [1:59]
6. In The Musicals, Part 2 [3:26]
7. 107 Steps [2:33]
8. Next To Last Song [2:26]
9. New World (End Credits) [4:29]
1. Overture
2. Washington State, 1964
3. Gene
4. Movie Tin
5. Happy
6. Secrets
7. Daydreaming
8. Night Shift
9. Cvalda
10. Dark Walk Home
11. Stage Entrance
12. Let Go
13. I've Seen It All
14. Desperation
15. Smith And Wesson (Scatterheart)
16. $2,056.10
17. Rehearsal
18. In The Musicals, Part 1
19. Trial
20. In The Musicals, Part 2
21. Verdict
22. New Information
23. My Favorite Things
24. Deal
25. Jeff
26. Time
27. 107 Steps
28. On The Gallows
29. Next To Last Song
30. New World/End Credits
31. Chapter 31


Customer Reviews

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Dancer in the Dark 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Verry uncanny. A look into the situations of life's ordeals. A beautiful ending. I had originally rented this movie at blockbusters and later bought a copy at tower records in the village NYC. The last copy (vhs) was just sitting there waiting for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Bjork (best singer ever)gives a captivating performance as selma.This movie draws you in from beginning to end, you cant leave your tv! The songs in the movie are haunting a release a poignant message to its audience!!!The end of the movie follows you around for days... you'll never forget it!!You must see this movie!! you'll love it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The bad guy gets away with it, the good guy loses, and along the way Bjork breaks out into song. Though this film is emotionally painful to watch at times with things going from bad to worse for Selma, it ultimately, as a film-going experience, is completely satisfying. Its decidedly un-Hollywood ending is wrenching and yet, even while you hold your head in your hands wishing it had all turned out differently for Selma, you know, deep down, that this is the ''right'' ending for such a brave cinematic journey. I wish Hollywood had the guts to pull this off.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dancer in the Dark is a perfect title for the movie, for it is a noir mystery of how a life can take it toll on people. This move quenches the intellectual mind. It veers away from today's pop culture to make a modern day masterpiece. Björk give a tremendous performance which got her BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE in THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL and if that is not enough the film won the PALME D'OR (CANNES' version of best film). The film also incorporates Björk's beautiful music which gives the film it uniqueness. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM...
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's so dark, so touching, so well acted, so original and so depressing... One of the best movies of the past year. If you haven't seen it, you're missing something great and unique.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amazing...Unique...Emotional...Intense...Magical...Surreal...Rent It...Buy It...Watch It!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After I have watched this movie;Dancer In The Dark,it took me several hours to recover from the depression which the tragic last scene gave to me.I found it hard for me to sympathize with the miserable heroine.Moreover I couldn't catch the main idea of this movie well.They wanted to tell us that life is difficult and nothing can resist our cruel fate,didn't they?Musics can't help us,and even friendship or love can't either.I would like to recommend this movie only to very serious people who want to consider the meaning of life or why all the people can't live together happily.The musics and the pictures at some scenes are beautiful.I like them.But on the whole,total impression is too gloomy.This is the last movie you should watch when you want to get relaxed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just get it, rent it, buy it anything you have to se this movie!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bjork was so enchanting during this performance that I was arrested to every minute of it. I have never seen anyone give themselves to a role so completely as she did, and the result is shatteringly amazing. It's not only a savage tear-jearker, though: it has its own share of charming playfulness and sombre beauty, too. The music is wonderfully whimsical and, Bjork being Bjork, totally unique. You've never seen anything like this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bjork is a real star and she is able to play Selma's character very well so real, so smooth and she won cannes anyway. Bjork is very unique and she is total to her job. She is the best. So what are you waiting for? Buy now!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I felt some confusion initially but then I got sucked in and couldnt turn it off. Call me girlie but I cried and I wasnt shopping for emotions. First time exposure to her music - Im hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
No movie in my life has ever affected me so emotionally. Truly outstanding performances by every cast member. Bjork made me fall in love with mousy Selma and cry for hours. As tragic as it gets, however, it left me with a good, albeit intense, feeling. Fantastic direction, dramatic abandon. Buy this movie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
''Dancer in the Dark'' is a fabulous movie. Bjork has such a unique voice, and the way the music scenes were done were just as unique -- all in her head except for one of them. It was a heart-breaking, poignent movie, and only further showed that the death penality is a unjust punishment. Every actor in the movie does an outstanding job of fully developing the characters. The camera work, although at first seeming unusual, works soooo well for this film. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best movies I've ever seen. It stirred up emotions that needed to be stirred, and it came across with a very evident message. I would suggest it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply the best film I have ever seen. Heartwrenching, haunting, excruciating to watch, but beautifully done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was intense, an emotional rollercoster, and had an amazing cast. Bjork was supurb, she portrayed this charector beautifully. I thught about this movie for days prior to watching it. Buy it today, everyone Needs to see this movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A film I always hoped to see in the cinema but only finally caught on DVD. I could kick myself for letting that happen, as I inadvertently deprived myself of viewing one of the best films I have ever seen. Bjork is exceptional, the plot is a real life twist on a fairy tale and the presentation is stupendous. Painful to watch at times, yes, but those with a brain and a heart will cry and cheer at its conclusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
dang - this movie straight rocked. whether you're a fan of Bjork's music or not, you will appreciate the passion and sympathy she evokes as the movie's star - Selma. when the movie ends, and the credits begin to roll in silence, you'll hear more than a few sniffles from around the room - probably some outright bawiling. this film was incredibly touching and speaks volumes about how much love this woman has for her son. Selma stands as a shining, altruistic, rough edged example of the type of love that should exist more often in our world. i saw it thrice in the theater and have already preordered the video. -ian
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago