“Who Will Sing Folk Songs?”: The Film Musical in Nine Variations
35mm Print

Dancer in the Dark is not like any other movie out this week, or this year. It smashes down the walls of habit that surround so many movies. It returns to the wellsprings. It is a bold, reckless gesture.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Between her masterpieces Homogenic and Vespertine, Björk wrote, produced, and performed the songs for Dancer in the Dark, a menace of a musical that at turns embodies and collapses all the strengths of the genre. Björk plays Selma, a Czech factory worker pulling double shifts and dealing with macular degeneration in a small Pacific Northwest town circa the mid-20th century. Lars Von Trier’s post-Dogme approach, led by cinematographer Robby Müller (Paris, Texas), is to fragment space and collapse time between shots, meaning we’re stuck anywhere (or nowhere) in an ersatz USA, populated by a cop, a boss, and a crowd ready to be swayed as in an Ibsen play. The guy has no heart,” wrote Dennis Cooper of Von Trier, but Björk’s escapist numbers, captured by dozens of DV cameras in synchronicity, push matters—of life and death and musical intertextuality—to the extreme.

In English

Palme d’or, Best Actress
Cannes Film Festival 2000

Von Trier lovingly extracts elements from the musical tradition and refigures them into a decidedly anti-American narrative performed by an international cast … This marriage of a scrutinizing documentary approach to the joyous excesses of Rodgers and Hammerstein is unlikely, brilliant and almost certainly a landmark in recent cinema.”

Rhys Graham, Senses of Cinema
Media

Upcoming in this Series

  • Hole 2
  • The Hole
  • Taiwan/France1998
  • Tsai Ming-liang
  • 95 35mm
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Une Chambre Un Ville 3
  • Une chambre en ville
  • aka A Room in Town
  • France1982
  • Jacques Demy
  • 93 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Magical Substance Flows Into Me 1
  • A Magical Substance Flows into Me
  • Palestine/Germany/United Kingdom2016
  • Jumana Manna
  • 66 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • West Indies 1
  • West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty
  • West Indies, ou Les nègres marrons de la liberté
  • Algeria/Mauritania/France1979
  • Med Hondo
  • 116 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Disciple 1
  • The Disciple
  • India2020
  • Chaitanya Tamhane
  • 128 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Dancer In The Dark 1
  • Dancer in the Dark
  • Denmark/Sweden/France/Iceland2000
  • Lars Von Trier
  • 140 35mm
  • 14A
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • All About Lily Chou Chou 5
  • All About Lily Chou-Chou
  • リリイ・シュシュのすべて
  • Japan2001
  • Iwai Shunji
  • 146 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Red Psalm 2
  • Red Psalm
  • Még kér a nép
  • Hungary1971
  • Miklós Jancsó
  • 84 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Golden Eighties 10
  • Golden Eighties
  • Belgium/France/Switzerland1986
  • Chantal Akerman
  • 96 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations