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Foreign Films > Europa (Lars von Trier, 1991)

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message 1: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 9825 comments Europa (Lars von Trier)

Elements of SPOILERS lurking beneath the surface...

I'm not sure if this really should be classified in Foreign, because a lot of the dialogue is in English, but it was made by a Danish filmmaker and is set in Germany, and some of the dialogue is in German. Anyway, here goes...

Europa is set in Germany right at the close of WWII, and presents an American named Kessler who lands a job as a train conductor. Germany has been desecrated by the allies, and is in a pitiful state of reconstruction. The main character jokes, after being charged again and again for costs associated with his hiring process, that he now understands why so much of Germany is's too expensive to get a job.

He meets the family that runs the trains and falls for the daughter of the once-wealthy industrialist who is still in charge of the railway. Barbara Sukova plays our heroine perfectly, and draws the main character in with her mysterious air. Sparks fly between them, and eventually they fall in love. Udo Kier plays her brother, and rounds out this unusual and quirky family.

Germany is occupied by the allies, and there are a lot of "werewolves", a name given to those Germans who are sabotaging the reconstruction of Germany. Herr Kessler is drawn into this world of undercover spies and their network, and is inadvertently looped into assisting them without his knowledge. As he becomes more and more in love with Sukova's character, he learns that she may also be a player in their espionage.

Lars von Trier presents his narrative in a very interesting visual style that uses a lot of filmic backdrops....the subject is divorced from his setting both stylistically and thematically. For the most part, the movie is shot in black and white, but on occasion, in moments of extreme tension or emotion, the foreground will change to color. This technique could prove distracting, but actually adds to the story in a nice way.

The film is billed as a surrealist thriller. I'm not so sure about the surrealist claim, I found nothing surrealistic about it, other than the unique approach to the presentation of the visual material. It's a fine film and one of von Trier's most accessible works. I would recommend it to anyone that is in the mood for a thriller with a unique visual element: the acting is good all around, fine performances by some of von Trier's stable of actors.

message 2: by Tom (new)

Tom | 4757 comments Nice post, Phillip! Wasn't this originally entitled ZENTROPA when it was first released in the U.S.?

message 3: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 9825 comments i'm not sure. europa is part of a trilogy....i think zentropa is another film in the trilogy, if i'm not mistaken.

message 4: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Thanks Phillip! This is one the few Trier films I have yet to see. I am anxiously awaiting ANTICHRIST.

message 5: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 9825 comments me too!
do you know if there is a release date for that?

message 6: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments The UK is releasing it on Blu-ray in October, probably before it even gets a release in the US!

message 7: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomElaine_Chaika) | 241 comments Alex DeLarge wrote: "The UK is releasing it on Blu-ray in October, probably before it even gets a release in the US! "

When it becomes available here, please give me a heads up. I love his other movies.

message 8: by Phillip (last edited Aug 17, 2009 11:44AM) (new)

Phillip | 9825 comments i went to see a movie last night and antichrist was on the list of films that are coming in the next two months (sept and oct).

message 9: by Evan (last edited Aug 17, 2009 07:53PM) (new)

Evan | 10 comments The answer is this:
"Zentropa" was, indeed, the alternate US-release title of "Europa."

I suspect it was because Agnieszka Holland's critically acclaimed "Europa Europa" was released just one year prior. Resulting confusion in the marketplace and all that...

I saw them both, and if I had to choose to watch either of them again I'd watch the Holland one. Yes, it's a more conventional drama. Trier's visual pyrotechnics struck me as a whole lot of show signifying little.

message 10: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 9825 comments thanks for the clarification, evan.

antichrist opens on october 30 in the san francisco bay area. i'm not sure when it opens elsewhere.

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