You have done it again, Lars.
You have made a movie that pushes the boundaries of modern cinema. In other words you have ignored the limitations of the ordinary film business and have thereby made the future of film history look different. This is a privilege of only one in a thousand film directors, so you deserve the critical praise that you get, for example, in Denmark and in France.
I saw “Dogville” at the film festival in Cannes and I saw it again here at the Motovun Film Festival in Croatia. In these two settings, as far apart from each as possible, I had roughly the same three hour experience with your daring experiment. Actors from four different generations merge to become inhabitants in a small American town. One of the greatest actresses of the new millennium, Nicole Kidman, is succeeding better than usual by a new ‘less is more’ approach.
You show us that props don’t always matter. The human character is under your microscope in a thorough and elegant investigation. Carefully planned, carried out meticulously and put into a three-hour format with the care of a scientist. Some would say a mad one but, by God, aren’t they the most interesting kind?
Despite “Dogville’s” many merits, the film did not win a prize in Cannes, and it didn’t win a prize in Motovun. In my opinion the jury members had clear heads and made the right choices at both events. They obviously didn’t leave their hearts in “Dogville” as I now have failed to do on two occasions.
In interviews you have stated that “Dogville” is closer to you as a human being than both “Breaking the Waves” and “Dancer in the Dark”. The previous films were more calculated and designed to make us cry in a very deliberate way, and you don’t want to repeat that. Fine, but you lost me in the process. “Dogville” was impressive but no way near jerking my tears.
Even though in a broad sense you have made an important movie in the history of film, it was not as important for this spectator. I know other people had the same feeling, but did not dare say it out loud for fear of not understanding a movie labeled a masterpiece almost by convention from the day of the first screening.
As much as I admire your mad scientist genes, I fear they are in danger of removing you from moving the public.
Good luck in the future, anyway.
Jacob Wendt Jensen
© FIPRESCI 2003