Up 499 this week

The Element of Crime (1984)
"Forbrydelsens element" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  14 May 1984 (Denmark)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 6,797 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 51 critic

A cop in a dystopian Europe investigates a serial killings suspect using controversial methods written by his now disgraced former mentor.


(as Lars Von Trier)


, (dialogue translation), 2 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

The 25 Most Immersive Worlds in Cinema

Highly immersive cinematic worlds can carry a movie, and we've rounded up the best of the best.

See the full list

Related News

Film Review: 'Harrigan'
| CineVue
Melancholia – review
| The Guardian - Film News

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 45 titles
created 31 Aug 2011
a list of 34 titles
created 22 Oct 2011
a list of 34 titles
created 26 Feb 2012
a list of 44 titles
created 13 Jun 2014
list image
a list of 31 titles
created 4 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Element of Crime (1984)

The Element of Crime (1984) on IMDb 6.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Element of Crime.

User Polls

12 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Epidemic (1987)
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A film director and a script writer (performed by Lars von Trier and Niels Vørsel themselves) write a screenplay, in which an epidemic spreads about the whole world. Like the protagonist ... See full summary »

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Allan De Waal, Ole Ernst, Michael Gelting
Europa (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Just after WW2, an American takes a railway job in Germany, but finds his position politically sensitive with various people trying to use him.

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Jean-Marc Barr, Udo Kier
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An IT company hires an actor to serve as the company's president in order to help the business get sold to a cranky Icelander.

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Jens Albinus, Peter Gantzler, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
Manderlay (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A story of slavery, set in the southern U.S. in the 1930s.

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Isaach De Bankolé, Danny Glover
Medea (TV Movie 1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Medea is in Corinth with Jason and their two young sons. King Kreon wants to reward Jason for his exploits: he gives the hand of his daughter, Glauce, to Jason as well as the promise of the... See full summary »

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Udo Kier, Kirsten Olesen, Henning Jensen
The Idiots (1998)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The group of people gather at the house in Copenhagen suburb to break all the limitations and to bring out the "inner idiot" in themselves.

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Bodil Jørgensen, Jens Albinus, Anne Louise Hassing
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

About a filmmaker not only revisiting, but also recreating (not in a conventional sense) one of his first films, The Perfect Human / Det perfekte menneske (1967)

Directors: Jørgen Leth, Lars von Trier
Stars: Claus Nissen, Majken Algren Nielsen, Daniel Hernandez Rodriguez
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Oilman Jan is paralyzed in an accident. His wife, who prayed for his return, feels guilty; even more, when Jan urges her to have sex with another.

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge
Crime | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An east European girl goes to America with her young son, expecting it to be like a Hollywood film.

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse
Dogville (2003)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits town, she finds out that their support has a price. Yet her dangerous secret is never far away...

Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Lauren Bacall
The Kingdom (1994–1997)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

The Kingdom is the most technologically advanced hospital in Denmark, a gleaming bastion of medical science. A rash of uncanny occurrences, however, begins to weaken the staff's faith in ... See full summary »

Stars: Ernst-Hugo Järegård, Kirsten Rolffes, Ghita Nørby
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Edward Fleming, Kirsten Olesen


Cast overview, first billed only:
Me Me Lai ...
Kim (as Meme Lai)
Jerold Wells ...
Ahmed El Shenawi ...
Astrid Henning-Jensen ...
House Keeper
János Herskó ...
Coroner (as Janos Hersko)
Stig Larsson ...
Coroner's Assistant
Harry Harper ...
Portier 1
Roman Moszkowicz ...
Portier 2
Schmuck of Ages (as Lars Von Trier)
Frederik Casby ...
White Policeman
Duke Addabayo ...
Black Policeman
Jon Bang Carlsen ...
Angry Policeman (as Jon Bang-Carlsen)
Leif Magnusson ...
Hotel Guest


Fisher, an ex-cop, returns to his old beat somewhere in northern Europe after a thirteen-year hiatus in Cairo. His former mentor and role model, author of a treatise called "The Element of Crime", asks him to solve a series of murders involving lottery ticket sellers. Guided by the theories put forth in the book, Fischer retraces the steps of a suspect, Harry Grey, as recorded in a three-year-old police surveillance report. Written by Eddi Sommer <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 May 1984 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

The Element of Crime  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first film in Lars von Trier's 'Europa' trilogy which illuminates the traumas of Europe in the future. The two other parts are Epidemic (1987) and Europa (1991). See more »


[first lines]
Therapist: [to Fisher] Fantasy is OK, but my job to keep you on the right track. We are after the facts. You seem to return to Cairo and me whenever you have a problem. Two months ago you left Cairo, your wife, everything for a police job in Europe. Now you are back haunted by headaches. If you want me to help you get rid of these headaches, we must go back two months in the time. Back to where it all started. All I know... Europe has become an obsession for you.
See more »


Der Letzte Tourist in Europa
By Mogens Dam, Henrik Blichmann
Translated by Waltraut Andersen
Sung by Sonja Kehler
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"The Silence of the Lambs" meets "Delicatessen"
3 May 2008 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

Lars Von Trier's feature début is a stylish, extremely bizarre and intriguing tapestry about an ex-cop (Michael Elphick) who obsessively pursues a serial killer. Playing with different film genres and supported by a fantastic production design, "The Element of Crime" was very different from what I expected, but not in a bad way. This is the first film in Lars' 'Europe trilogy', followed by "Epidemic" (1987) and "Zentropa" (1991). Influenced by Fritz Lang, Terry Gilliam and many others, the film also has a voice of its own (Von Trier's raging verve); I'd call it "The Silence of the Lambs" meets "Delicatessen", so you can have an idea of how bizarre it is. If that sounds interesting to you, you should check it; even if you're not into the likes of "Dogville" or "Breaking the Waves", you may still appreciate it. Interesting for Von Trier fans and admirers of puzzles alike. 8/10.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Very Disappointing cameronlovesjesus
Apocolypse Now dolfkamper
Does Von Trier like this film? CWP-
What was the significance of the lemur in the sewer? roebuck74
Confused Rumer96
theorys?/understand ings? mattvanstone
Discuss The Element of Crime (1984) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: