A film director and a script writer (performed by Lars von Trier and Niels Vørsel themselves) write a screenplay, in which an epidemic spreads about the whole world. Like the protagonist they do not notice, that a real epidemic is developing around them.Written by
Fredrik Klasson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This Hypnotic Abstraction is Truly Very Atmospheric and Creepy.
Epidemic appears to be all stylistic self-indulgence. It is filmed in black and white, with often purposely redundant subtitles. Each shot is very very long. Some are stoic, some are suddenly goofy, some are disturbing, mostly stoic. When there is dialogue, it is intellectually stimulating, but borderline irrelevant.
Mainly, it is that director Lars Von Trier and his screenplay collaborator Niels Vorsel play themselves, coming up with a last-minute script for a producer. This strand takes disproportionate turns with scenes from their script, in which Von Trier plays a radical doctor attempting to cure a modern-day epidemic. In an warped turn, the doctor finds that he himself has been spreading it. For so long, one is left without a clue as to why there is such a coincidence between the screenplay and the outside world, or any progressions of the different narrative strands' signifying signs. But it infects you. It burns you.
Whether or not the film is narcissistic, it is not form over function. Essentially, it is a basic exercise in what metaphysically affects the viewer. Consider the scene of the darker, quieter of the screenwriters in the subway, knowing predeterminately that the other one is going to die. Or when he looks in a mirror, turns to us, the camera, then the mirror again. Everything one expects would create a cohesive, sense-making narrative film is inverted and indeed develops an immediately conscious connection between itself and the audience.
That is not to say it eschews any fundamental aspect of quality. Udo Kier delivers one of the most amazing, fantastic performances I have ever seen. Really, many of the performances, whoever these actors, or characters, are, shock and deeply move us. Some scenes are entirely made up of uproarious laughter or breakdowns of screaming, in spite of the unapologetic stoicism and quiet permeating the film.
This hypnotic abstraction is truly very atmospheric and creepy. It is a transcendental, almost physiologically affecting virus that infests you for days upon being subjected to it. It is something that has to be seen and can hardly be explained. And that makes it a true work of art.
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