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

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 6,004 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 52 critic

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

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(as Lars Von Trier)

Writers:

, (dialogue translation), 2 more credits »
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12 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Osborne
Me Me Lai ...
Kim (as Meme Lai)
Jerold Wells ...
Kramer
Ahmed El Shenawi ...
Therapist
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
Edit

Storyline

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 <eddi@gmd.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

europe | method | headache | return | hypnosis | See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

14 May 1984 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

The Element of Crime  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References Touch of Evil (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

Lars von Trier's dazzling dystopia. As if Peter Greenaway directed 'Blade Runner' with a script by David Lynch.
28 January 2003 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

It's taken me a long time but I've finally managed to see Lars von Trier's debut feature film. And boy, was it worth the wait! Those who are mainly familiar with his recent work might find this fascinating and visually stunning movie a bit of a shock to the system, but if you've seen his superb thriller 'Europa' you will have a better idea what to expect. This was made way before von Trier's vow of cinematic chastity, and he pulls all the stops out. 'The Element Of Crime' is a future noir and deliberately references 'Blade Runner', but there are also dollops of David Lynch in there, Tarkovsky, Terry Gilliam and possibly even Cocteau. It's such a kitchen sink mix of influences that each viewer will probably see something else echoed in it. That's not to say the movie can only be appreciated by movie snobs and trainspotter types, it's a very enjoyable viewing experience in its own right. The cast is a very interesting and eclectic mix. The lead Brit character actor Michael Elphick is recognizable from 'The Elephant Man' and 'Withnail And I' among many other things. He is supported by Shakespearean veteran Esmond Knight, 'The Time Bandits' Jerold Wells, and Me Me Lai, best known for cannibal exploitation movies by Deodato and Lenzi. Quite an odd group of actors but they are all very good and fit together well. The movie itself is a mystery, and if the plot doesn't suck you in the amazing visuals will. The first time I watched 'The Element Of Crime' I was slightly disappointed, but a second viewing the next day really opened my eyes. Lars von Trier is one of the most interesting and original directors currently working, but he is certainly no late bloomer. 'The Element Of Crime' shows he was absolutely brilliant and innovative from the very beginning. This unique film is highly recommended for science fiction buffs and arthouse fiends alike. After you've digested it (and multiple viewings might help) watch 'Europa' which is even more impressive in my opinion.


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