6.9/10
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The Element of Crime (1984)

Forbrydelsens element (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 14 May 1984 (Denmark)
A cop in a dystopian Europe investigates a serial killings suspect using controversial methods written by his now disgraced former mentor.

Director:

Lars von Trier (as Lars Von Trier)

Writers:

Niels Vørsel, William Quarshie (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:
Michael Elphick ... Fisher
Esmond Knight ... Osborne
Me Me Lai ... Kim (as Meme Lai)
Jerold Wells ... Kramer
Ahmed El Shenawi Ahmed El Shenawi ... Therapist
Astrid Henning-Jensen Astrid Henning-Jensen ... House Keeper
János Herskó ... Coroner (as Janos Hersko)
Stig Larsson ... Coroner's Assistant
Harry Harper Harry Harper ... Portier 1
Roman Moszkowicz Roman Moszkowicz ... Portier 2
Lars von Trier ... Schmuck of Ages (as Lars Von Trier)
Frederik Casby Frederik Casby ... White Policeman
Duke Addabayo Duke Addabayo ... Black Policeman
Jon Bang Carlsen Jon Bang Carlsen ... Angry Policeman (as Jon Bang-Carlsen)
Leif Magnusson Leif Magnusson ... Hotel Guest
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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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Denmark

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

14 May 1984 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

The Element of Crime See more »

Filming Locations:

Denmark See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 »


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

 
pure genius
16 September 2001 | by Buffy-12See all my reviews

The day after I saw this film for the first time, I had to sit down and watch it again. Not because I thought I'd missed something, but because the story and visuals are so compelling that it's the kind of film you're drawn to watch again and again.

Lars Von Trier has created a world of darkness - both literal and figurative. I can't recall a single scene in this film that takes place in broad daylight. The characters move through a surreal night-time world, where everything seems to be touched by corruption and decay. The places they inhabit - a leaky basement, a dirty hotel, the shell of a broken-down bus - all contribute to the overall sense of squalor and disease that overcomes the viewer.

The story essentially follows a man as he follows the trail of a serial killer. As the plot unfolds, there are hints of some kind of surreal (almost supernatural) cycle or pattern into which the detective has fallen. As the film builds to a climax, the viewer's feelings of uneasiness grow along with a sick kind of fascination when the realization of what is happening takes hold.

This film, with its mixture of dreamlike visuals and a nightmarish story, is one of the best foreign-language films I have ever had the privilege of seeing. I would highly recommend it to fans of David Lynch, Jeunet & Caro, Soderbergh's "Kafka," or as a good introduction to Von Trier.


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