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Von Trier's 100 Eyes (2000)

Von Trier's 100 øjne (original title)
A short documentary that explains the process Lars von Trier used to give his film Dancer in the Dark its unusual look.


(as Katia Forbert Petersen)


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This is a documentary included on the Dancer in the Dark DVD. It explains the complicated process that utilized 100 cameras (or eyes) to capture as many possible angles at one time. By using this process, Lars was able to create a "live" feeling to the film, especially in the non-musical parts. This process was invented by Lars von Trier and his crew and is entirely exclusive to this film. This documentary also reveals what Lars feels were the successes and the failures of using this technique. Written by Brian Franz <mahaloth@aol.com>

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2 December 2000 (Denmark)  »

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Von Trier's 100 Eyes  »

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Dull and unenlightening -- what happened?!
1 October 2001 | by (St. Louis, MO) – See all my reviews

Lars von Trier is not simply one of the most consistently interesting filmmakers working today -- he is also a supremely gifted con artist with a penchant for pulling the public's collective leg and constantly building up his own "legend." As such, it's difficult, if not impossible, to know when to take him seriously, and thus any serious attempt to figure him out is ultimately doomed to failure. Therefore, a documentary about von Trier and his work is best approached as pure entertainment rather than a revealing glimpse into the "filmmakers' art" or the "creative process" or whatever. Here, though, another factor comes into play: unlike the previous docs on von Trier (such as Stig Björkman's "Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier" and Jesper Jargil's "The Humiliated"), "Von Trier's 100 Eyes" -- about the making of his latest film, "Dancer in the Dark" -- is produced by Zentropa, von Trier's own production company, which (in Scandinavia at least) is well-known for its tendency toward exaggeration and outright fabrication in matters of publicity. In other words, this film should be approached not simply with a grain of salt, but preferably a whole bag.

First things first: for (ostensibly) legal reasons, Björk herself has a negligible part in this doc, limited almost entirely to clips from the finished product. The entire enterprise seems mostly pointless as a consequence, and the one scene in which she does appear (a cutaway view of the set, with von Trier directing her in the harrowing murder scene while filming the action through a hole in the wall) is so utterly fascinating that you want to see more, but sorry, that's all you'll get, buddy. And with the lead actress out of the picture, there is precious little footage of von Trier actually interacting with his actors, save some goofy, between-takes clowning with Catherine Deneuve and a couple of other members of the supporting cast. For the most part, though, once von Trier's camera goes on, Forbert's goes off, and so anyone interested in seeing how von Trier works with his actors might as well skip this and track down a copy of "The Humiliated" instead.

The remainder of the piece is scarcely more informative than the ten-minute promotional pieces included on the U.S. "Dancer" DVD, dealing with the original inspiration (a Danish fairy tale called "Golden Heart"), the choreography, and of course the much-vaunted 100 cameras, with plenty of pretentious moments in between where Lars reads lyrics from the film's songs in a droning, emotionless voice while a split-screen shows the view from various angles. Things finally pick up a bit near the end, after Björk has (supposedly) disappeared after (supposedly) stalking angrily off the set while (supposedly) tearing up her wardrobe with her teeth (!). Von Trier is shown considering whether or not to give up altogether (not very convincingly, I might add), and somebody creates some odd-looking Björk masks, with the intention of putting them on a body double and finishing the rest of the film that way. The whole thing is so absurd and credibility-straining that even the most gullible viewers will probably sense that something is awry, and sure enough, just when things are looking their most hopeless, Björk suddenly and mysteriously reappears on the set, filming is completed, and flash-forward a bit to Lars and Björk collecting their awards at Cannes. Everyone lives happily ever after, the end, etc. etc. Cinéma vérité this ain't.

Forgive my cynicism, but if anyone connected with this documentary thought they were making a "serious" film, it doesn't show. This is basically an hour-long promotional piece for Lars von Trier and the film he happened to be working on at the time. We learn nothing about von Trier, nothing about "Dancer in the Dark," and nothing about the process of making a film, and as if that weren't bad enough, this isn't even a particularly entertaining film. A boring documentary about good ol' zany Lars? It's like they weren't even trying. Go with "Tranceformer" or "The Humiliated" instead, or better yet, just watch "Dancer in the Dark" again.

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