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Just after W.W.II, an American takes a railway job in Germany, but finds his position politically sensitive with various people trying to use him.

Director:

Lars von Trier
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16 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Marc Barr ... Leopold Kessler
Barbara Sukowa ... Katharina Hartmann
Udo Kier ... Lawrence Hartmann
Ernst-Hugo Järegård ... Uncle Kessler
Erik Mørk Erik Mørk ... Pater
Jørgen Reenberg Jørgen Reenberg ... Max Hartmann
Henning Jensen ... Siggy
Eddie Constantine ... Colonel Harris
Max von Sydow ... Narrator (voice)
Benny Poulsen Benny Poulsen ... Steleman
Erno Müller Erno Müller ... Seifert
Dietrich Kuhlbrodt Dietrich Kuhlbrodt ... Inspector
Michael Phillip Simpson Michael Phillip Simpson ... Robins
Holger Perfort Holger Perfort ... Mr. Ravenstein
Anne Werner Thomsen Anne Werner Thomsen ... Mrs. Ravenstein
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Storyline

An American of German descent arrives in post-war Germany 1945. His uncle gets him a job on the Zentropa train line as a sleeping car conductor. The American's wish is to be neutral to the ongoing purges of loyalists by the Allied forces and do what he can to help a hurting country, but he finds himself being used by both the Americans and the influential family that owns the railroad. After falling in love with the railroad magnate's daughter, he finds that he can't remain neutral and must make some difficult choices. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for scenes of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

27 June 1991 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Europa See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DKK 28,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,007,001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Black and White | Color (Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Upon realizing that Europa did not win the Palme d'Or at the 44th Cannes Film Festival, Lars von Trier gave the judges the finger and stormed out the venue. See more »

Quotes

[opening lines]
Narrator: You will now listen to my voice. My voice will help you and guide you still deeper into Europa. Every time you hear my voice, with every word and every number, you will enter into a still deeper layer - open, relaxed and receptive. I shall now count from one to ten. On the count of ten, you will be in Europa. I say: one. And as you focus your attention entirely on my voice, you will slowly begin to relax. Two - your hands and your fingers are getting warmer and heavier. Three - ...
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Connections

Referenced in Europa: The Faecal Location (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Europa Aria
Written by Lars von Trier
Performed by Nina Hagen and Philippe Huttenlocher
Courtesy of Virgin Musique
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Best when watched between 3 and 5 am
13 November 2000 | by zetesSee all my reviews

This is the fifth von Trier film I have seen. I believe that he is the only director to whom I have given such a high score on all his movies. Four of them, The Element of Crime, Europa, Breaking the Waves, and Dancer in the Dark, I have given a 10, and one, The Idiots, I have given a 9 (and I have been reconsidering whether to give it a 10 since I first saw it, although I'd like to see it once more before I do). He has been chided for calling himself one of the best working directors. I tend to agree with him. I cannot blame him for being arrogant when he has made such great films. In 50 years, when von Trier retires, he will be looked upon as the pre-eminent film artist from Europe (perhaps from the planet), and there will be classes taught in his name. He simply is the Bergman or Fellini of our time. It is too bad the critics are too intrigued with themselves to notice this.

About Europa itself, I'll admit that it was confusing and that its narrative did not seem strong. I think that's the point. This film was obviously meant to represent a nightmare, or the subconscious at some level. This is absolutely clear from the framing of the film: Max von Sydow's narration. We are hypnotized, or von Trier is hypnotized, and this is our/his subconscious mind. I'm inclined to lean more towards his mind, since the degradation of Europe concerns me, an American, very little. This framing is also clear if you have seen The Element of Crime, an even more brilliant film than this (although I am disputing that in my mind; what Europa needs more than anything is a proper release on DVD, hopefully Criterion again, with theatrical aspect ratio and remastered sound and picture; then, I am fairly sure, this film would seem as great as any of von Trier's other films). In The Element of Crime, the film begins with a hypnotist, whom we actually see on screen this time, is hypnotizing Fisher, a European detective who wants to get to the root of his mental anguish. The first words of that film are "Fantasy is okay, but my job is to keep you on track." And whenever Fisher, the narrator, gets off track, the hypnotist does chastize him and tells him to get back on with the story. He even laughs when a character is given a really silly and trite line. Something along the lines of, "Do you understand the difference between good and evil?" The hypnotist laughs and says, "Now, Fisher, she didn't really say that, did she?"

So the key to interpreting Europa, almost a sequel of sorts to The Element of Crime, is that we are deep in our/von Trier's subconscious, and the symbols there are to be interpreted within ourselves and will likely be different for everyone. What does the train itself symbolize? Consider it internally, and only then discuss it externally. Europa is a great film, a masterpiece. I was never bored by it, even though I watched it at 3 am. The perfect time to watch, actually, since it works in dream logic.


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