During World War II, 12-year old Ivan works as a spy on the eastern front. The small Ivan can cross the German lines unnoticed to collect information. Three Soviet officers try to take care... See full summary »
The location: Nazi occupied Rome. As Rome is classified an open city, most Romans can wander the streets without fear of the city being bombed or them being killed in the process. But life ... See full summary »
The circularity of violence seen in a story that circles on itself. In Macedonia, during war in Bosnia, Christians hunt an ethnic Albanian girl who may have murdered one of their own. A ... See full summary »
A semiautobiographical project by John Boorman about a nine year old boy called Bill as he grows up in London during the blitz of World War 2. For a young boy, this time in history was more... See full summary »
A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives. He becomes the roommate of top student in his class. Rivals at first, the roommates form a bond and share a secret.
An American of German descent arrives in post-war Germany 1945. His uncle gets him a job on the Zentropa train line as a sleeping car conductor. The American's wish is to be neutral to the ongoing purges of loyalists by the Allied forces and do what he can to help a hurting country, but he finds himself being used by both the Americans and the influential family that owns the railroad. After falling in love with the railroad magnate's daughter, he finds that he can't remain neutral and must make some difficult choices. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
In the morning, the sleeper has found rest on the bottom of the river. The force of the stream has opened the door and is leading you on. Above your body, people are still alive. Follow the river as days go by. Head for the ocean that mirrors the sky. You want to wake up to free yourself of the image of Europa. But it is not possible.
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This is the fifth von Trier film I have seen. I believe that he is the only director to whom I have given such a high score on all his movies. Four of them, The Element of Crime, Europa, Breaking the Waves, and Dancer in the Dark, I have given a 10, and one, The Idiots, I have given a 9 (and I have been reconsidering whether to give it a 10 since I first saw it, although I'd like to see it once more before I do). He has been chided for calling himself one of the best working directors. I tend to agree with him. I cannot blame him for being arrogant when he has made such great films. In 50 years, when von Trier retires, he will be looked upon as the pre-eminent film artist from Europe (perhaps from the planet), and there will be classes taught in his name. He simply is the Bergman or Fellini of our time. It is too bad the critics are too intrigued with themselves to notice this.
About Europa itself, I'll admit that it was confusing and that its narrative did not seem strong. I think that's the point. This film was obviously meant to represent a nightmare, or the subconscious at some level. This is absolutely clear from the framing of the film: Max von Sydow's narration. We are hypnotized, or von Trier is hypnotized, and this is our/his subconscious mind. I'm inclined to lean more towards his mind, since the degradation of Europe concerns me, an American, very little. This framing is also clear if you have seen The Element of Crime, an even more brilliant film than this (although I am disputing that in my mind; what Europa needs more than anything is a proper release on DVD, hopefully Criterion again, with theatrical aspect ratio and remastered sound and picture; then, I am fairly sure, this film would seem as great as any of von Trier's other films). In The Element of Crime, the film begins with a hypnotist, whom we actually see on screen this time, is hypnotizing Fisher, a European detective who wants to get to the root of his mental anguish. The first words of that film are "Fantasy is okay, but my job is to keep you on track." And whenever Fisher, the narrator, gets off track, the hypnotist does chastize him and tells him to get back on with the story. He even laughs when a character is given a really silly and trite line. Something along the lines of, "Do you understand the difference between good and evil?" The hypnotist laughs and says, "Now, Fisher, she didn't really say that, did she?"
So the key to interpreting Europa, almost a sequel of sorts to The Element of Crime, is that we are deep in our/von Trier's subconscious, and the symbols there are to be interpreted within ourselves and will likely be different for everyone. What does the train itself symbolize? Consider it internally, and only then discuss it externally. Europa is a great film, a masterpiece. I was never bored by it, even though I watched it at 3 am. The perfect time to watch, actually, since it works in dream logic.
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