A QUIET LITTLE TOWN NOT FAR FROM HERE.
The residents of Dogville, Colorado, agree to offer runaway Grace (Nicole Kidman) sanctuary, with discomforting consequences. Lars von Trier’s first part of a planned trilogy about the U.S. was shot entirely on a soundstage with white stripes standing in for the buildings of Dogville (and the actors pretending to open and close doors). Surprisingly enough, you buy into the concept and it is principally the cinematographer and his bag of visual tricks who deserves credit for that. Von Trier puts the treacherous features of mankind on display; it’s a good tale with an unexpected, vicious ending but unfortunately there’s also a hint of condescension towards “the young Americans”. Kidman is quite moving.
2003-Denmark-Britain-Holland-Sweden-France-Germany. 177 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Vibeke Windelöw. Written and directed by Lars von Trier. Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle. Cast: Nicole Kidman (Grace), Harriet Andersson (Gloria), Lauren Bacall (Ma Ginger), Jean-Marc Barr, Paul Bettany, Blair Brown… James Caan, Philip Baker Hall, Patricia Clarkson, Ben Gazzara, Chloë Sevigny, Stellan Skarsgård. Narrated by John Hurt.
Trivia: Katrin Cartlidge was cast for the part of Vera, but died suddenly; Patricia Clarkson replaced her. Later a stage play. Followed by Manderlay (2005).
European Film Awards: Best Director, Cinematography.
Last word: “I allow myself to be provoked. I was very provoked by lots of American journalists in Cannes. They were angry that I’d made a film about the USA although I hadn’t been there. So I thought, that’s fine. At last! Now I’m going to make lots of American films. [He laughs.] I also thought that it might be interesting for the Americans, and for others, to find out how someone who’s never been there sees America. If it were my country, Denmark, I would like to know what someone who hadn’t been there thought. Perhaps they’d only think of the Little Mermaid, or that polar bears roam around there. How should I know? In any case, it’s interesting to have one’s country illuminated. I didn’t think it was such a great sin. Besides, that is just what American filmmakers have always done.” (von Trier, Masters of Seventh Art)