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After gangster Mulligan's cars colony, fleeing northern justice, finds a hiding place in Alabama, spoiled, naive daughter Grace refuses to travel on after seeing the Manderlay cotton plantation being run under slavery rules, called Mam's law, inclusive flogging. She keeps half of dad's goons as guard to force the dying matriarch-owner's heirs, which she shamelessly dispossesses and reduces to 'staff', to taste destitution under absurd, gun-imposed contracts. The 'slaves' are made free partners, supposed to vote for progress after lessons from Grace. But almost all her democracy-pupils prove fickle, dumb and selfish, except old Willem. Her and their ignorance in Southern planting and crafty Dixie ways means more problems are created then solved. By the time dad returns to pick her up or abandon her for good, she's the one who has learned and changed the most. Written by
Indeed one of this years best films. I have just returned from the cinema, and i'm still thinking about Manderlay. The story continues where Dogville ended. Grace and her father makes a short brake their travel, and discovers that a slave is getting punished near by in a plantation named Manderlay. Grace's father continues his travel and Grace stays in Manderlay to set the slaves free, as they should have been 70 years ago, when the slavery was made illegal. And of course this is not easy.
Manderlay isn't as shocking and far out as Dogville was. Not that it was a bad thing of course. But this is just a very much stronger film, because you get personally involved in the characters in a way that i don't think you did in Dogville. The only thing missing is a little bit of action. Nothing really happens. People just walk around and talk. The biggest scenes in the film has no direct influence on the following physical action and development in the story. well of course they does, but the development lies in the head of the characters. These developments are more interesting to analyze after you have seen the movie that during the movie. But instead of a lot of physical action we are given as i remember three truly terrifying and terrific scenes that are as strong as scenes in Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves, and they does in my opinion make up for the lack of action.
Manderlay is also a lot stronger i it's message than Dogville was. Yes, the message is pointed against USA, but as in Dogville, it is so much more than just a criticism of that country... it's a criticism of the human kind. The reason for Lars von Trier to place the story in USA is that he likes to tease the big ones. He said that in an interview on TV not so long ago. He also said that the screenplay was written before the incidents in Iraq, so it's a coincidence that there are so many parallels between the events in Manderlay and in Iraq.
Lars von Trier is in my opinion one of the biggest directors of our time. It takes a courage, that i see in no other directors than him, to make a film like this. Manderlay is one of the bravest movies i have seen.
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