Dancer in the Dark (2000) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • An Eastern European US immigrant with a love for musicals has to cope with the gradual loss of her vision.

  • In small-town Washington state in 1964, Czechoslovakian immigrant Selma Jezková and her preteen son Gene live in a rented trailer owned by Bill and Linda Houston; Bill is the town sheriff. Selma also has a small group of friends, including her co-worker and primary confidante Kathy, and Jeff, who wants to be her boyfriend. Jeff regularly waits outside Selma's workplace to drive her home, although she always refuses, not wishing to lead him on. Her primary job is working on the Anderson Tool factory assembly line, but she does whatever else she can to earn money. What only Kathy knows among Selma's friends is that she is slowly going blind from a genetic medical condition. She can see just enough to be able to do her job. Her primary reason for moving to the USA and working all the time is to earn enough money for an operation for Gene when he turns 13; he knows nothing about his mother's or his own degenerative eyesight. Selma allows only one indulgence in her life: anything to do with musicals which she loves, because they're an escape from her bleak life. Kathy often takes her to the cinema to watch old musicals and must describe to her what's happening on the screen, to the other patrons' annoyance. Selma also has the role of Maria in a community-theatre production of "The Sound of Music." Close to having enough money for the operation, Selma races against time before she loses enough sight to lose her job and her role in the musical. What may also threaten Selma's goal of the operation for Gene is some financial problems facing Bill, who feels pressured to provide Linda with the comforts of life to which she's accustomed.

  • Czechoslovakian immigrant Selma lives in a small American town with her young son Gene. She works in a local factory and enjoys musicals, watching them and acting in them. However, due to an hereditary condition, she is going blind and her main aim is to save enough money to make sure her son's eyesight is saved.

  • Selma has emigrated with her son from Central Europe to America. The year is 1964. Selma works day and night to save her son from the same disease she suffers from, a disease that inevitably will make her blind. But Selma has the energy to live because of her secret! She loves musicals. When life feels tough she can pretend that she is in the wonderful world of musicals...just for a short moment. All happiness life is not able to give her she finds there...

  • Selma is a Czechoslovakian immigrant, a single mother working in a factory in rural America. Her salvation is her passion for music, specifically, the all-singing, all-dancing numbers found in classic Hollywood musicals. Selma harbors a sad secret: she is losing her eyesight and her son Gene stands to suffer the same fate if she can't put away enough money to secure him an operation. When a desperate neighbor falsely accuses Selma of stealing his savings, the drama of her life escalates to a tragic finale.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Selma is a young Czech mother living in Washington state in the early 1960s. How she loves musicals! Alas, she is going blind, and this is threatening her job (not to say her limbs) at the local factory, where she is friends with Cathy, who is a bit flummoxed by Selma's increasing workload, which includes pinning hairpins to unbent cardboard as a side job.

    Selma lives with her understandably ungrateful 12-year-old delinquent son in a mobile trailer on the property of a local sheriff and his happy-go-lucky wife. One day, the sheriff reveals a dark secret to Selma, and being the type to cement friendships, she tells him a secret, too: that she is going blind. Life spirals downard for her after this revelation, but Selma is resolute in protecting her friend's secret.

    Cathy, who grows increasingly frustrated with Selma's decisions, comes to realize Selma's methodology was right after all, and in the gripping final moments of the film, she tells Selma that she did right.

    This is a curious, highly depressing, yet exhilarating film (with various experimental camera techniques) about the power of friendship and maternal love -- not to be watched alone!

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