1964 in small town Washington state. Selma Jezková, a Czechoslovakian immigrant, and her preteen son Gene live in a rented trailer owned by and on the property of married Bill and Linda Houston, he the town sheriff. Beyond Bill and Linda, Selma has a small group of friends who look out for her, including her primary confidante, Kathy, with who she works, and Jeff who wants to be her boyfriend. Jeff regularly waits outside Selma's workplace long before the end of her shift to drive her home, despite she always refusing in not wanting to lead him on. Her primary job is working on the Anderson Tool factory assembly line, but she does whatever she can to earn money. What only Kathy knows among Selma's friends is that she is slowly going blind, her medical condition being genetic. Selma is barely able to see, just enough to do her job. Her primary reason for moving to the US and for working all the time is to earn enough money for an operation for Gene when he turns thirteen, he who ...Written by
The original European version had the overture played in dimmed lighting before the curtains opened on the screen. However, Fine Line Features president Mark Ordesky informed director Lars von Trier that such an opening was unfeasible in U.S. theaters, since most American theaters don't have curtains and have electronic projection booths overseen by inexperienced staffers. Thus, von Trier filmed a visual accompaniment to go along with the overture in the U.S. release: a collage of paintings by Per Kirkeby, the artist/husband of producer Vibeke Windeløv. See more »
It feels awkward to attempt to put Dancer in the Dark into words. Von Trier's film is one of those movies that truly change the way we think about cinema and its possibilities, and for such a film, words do no justice. Dancer in the Dark centers around Selma (Björk), a factory worker, who loves her 10-year-old son above everything else in the world. Selma is a happy, innocent creature who enjoys musicals for "nothing bad ever happens in them". These elements (mother's love for her son, joyfulness of musicals versus the hardships of every day life) create a whole unlike anything ever seen on silver screen. Selma is rapidly losing her eye sight, but not her vision: she's the 'dancer in the dark' who is prepared to sacrifice herself to keep the light in her child's eyes. Very early on it becomes obvious that this story can't have a happy ending. However, once you've accepted it, you can put your mind at ease and see the film as it unfolds from Selma's point of view. And what a view it is! Björk gives a performance of a life time - this little woman with a huge voice is all emotion all the time without ever appearing overtly dramatic or cheaply sentimental. There's no weak link in the rest of the cast either, Peter Stormare as Jeff, Catherine Deneuve as Kathy and Siobhan Fallon as the prison guard to name but a few. The biggest star is still the director himself; von Trier demonstrates his talent in a superb fashion by both telling a simple story that will most likely break you heart and examining the ever-persistent ills of the life of the lower class of the American society. What about the film's musical character then? This is where von Trier triumphs the most by understanding the very essence of the whole genre - hope; hope that will live in our soul for ever if we'll only follow our heart.
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