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Dancer in the Dark (2000)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Musical  |  6 October 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 75,297 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 689 user | 175 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

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


(as Lars Von Trier)


(as Lars Von Trier)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 32 wins & 43 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Oldrich Novy
Linda Houston
Vladica Kostic ...
Gene Jezkova
Brenda (as Siobhan Fallon)
District Attorney
Reathel Bean ...
Mette Berggreen ...


Selma has emigrated with her son from Central Europe to America. The year is 1964. Selma works day and night to save her son from the same disease she suffers from, a disease that inevitably will make her blind. But Selma has the energy to live because of her secret! She loves musicals. When life feels tough she can pretend that she is in the wonderful world of musicals...just for a short moment. All happiness life is not able to give her she finds there... Written by Fredrik Klasson <fredrik.klasson@telia.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In a world of shadows, she found the light of life. See more »


Crime | Drama | Musical

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


Release Date:

6 October 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bailando en la oscuridad  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$63,858 (Norway) (8 September 2000)


ESP 290,047,040 (Spain) (29 June 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The third film in Lars von Trier's "Golden Heart" trilogy in which the heroines remain naïve despite their actions. The two other parts are Breaking the Waves (1996) and The Idiots (1998). See more »


Despite the movie taking place in the mid-to-late 1960s, a clearly very modern train (from at least the late 70s) can be seen moving past Selma's house early on in the film. See more »


Selma: [talking about musical films] You know when the camera goes really big and it comes up out of the roof, and you just know that it's gonna end? I hate that.
See more »


Featured in The 100 Greatest Musicals (2003) See more »


Written by Björk, Sjón Sigurdsson & Lars von Trier
Performed by Björk
Published by Universal Music & Copyright Control
See more »

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User Reviews

An extraordinary, quietly exploding film - a fantasy and musical, it emanates with human spirits
20 October 2000 | by (sf, usa) – See all my reviews

This is distinguishably different from the general Hollywood films or independent projects. It's not like anything done before. LARS VON TRIER, and BJORK, simply blow your mind away: such totality in delivery!

It's gut wrenching - an absorbing tearjerker - but not sentimental. It is in strong doses. (NFE: it may not be for everyone.) The theatre audience was very quiet with occasional sniffing heard. The film may be a fantasy, yet there are subtle jabs at certain social norms and contains hints at how we treat life and lead life.

Bjork made it natural, innocent, and naively good. It is all Bjork matter: she is feeling all the joy and pain and daydreaming, saying all those words, singing all those songs, and dancing along to the music she so ingeniously composed. Lars von Trier once again wrote and delivered a 100% powerful film. He packs all kinds of emotions into 2 hrs. and 20 mins.: from the endearing friendship of two working women Kathy and Selma; to the faithful loving pursuit of Jeff for Selma; to the quiet exchanges of seemingly trusting souls of Bill and Selma; to Selma's son, Bill's wife, the crime, the court, the prison's loneliness within; the anguish pain of a determined mother; and the integrated mood changing musical numbers in-between. One scene of Bjork lying motionless with just one finger moving with quiet sobbing heard is powerful imagery.

Catherine Deneuve as Kathy is well at ease in her supporting role. She continues to exude her charm quietly. You can tell she thoroughly enjoys the company she's in at this production. Musical-wise, Deneuve is no stranger: besides "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" 1964 - every word in the film was sung, I also remember Jacques Demy's "The Young Girls of Rochefort" 1967 - she danced and sang with her sister Francoise Dorleac, along with Gene Kelly, Michel Piccoli and George Chakiris.

David Morse as Bill (the policeman and neighbor) reminds me of what a memorable performance he delivered in Sean Penn's "The Crossing Guard" 1995 opposite Jack Nicholson and Robin Wright. 'tis great to see Joel Grey dancing again (hm, in the most improbable setting!)

For a 5' 4'' singer-songwriter from Iceland, Bjork is a giant impact in this quiet powerhouse of a film, "Dancer In the Dark." Lars von Trier's vision and confidence in Bjork truly paid off!

56 of 81 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Just awful rob-asbell
Selma is a murderer with a low IQ, I feel sorry for her orphan nickymelnar
Most depressing movie I have ever seen. PerceptiveGal
Did anyone NOT cry?... justsomerandomirrelevantweirdo
view of America richee-1
Not convinced by Bjorks acting abilities tallbird50
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