IN THE DARK
Among the scenes I found most interesting was the march to
the execution. She is going in silence. She refuses to have her
case reopened and have her sentence commuted because it would
take the $ she has saved for her son's operation. She chooses
to give him sight, rather than to live.
-Review by Darrel Manson
DANCER IN THE DARK
This page was created on October 30, 2000
This page was last updated on
May 17, 2005
Directed by Lars von Trier
Written by Lars von Trier
Catherine Deneuve .... Kathy
David Morse .... Bill
Peter Stormare .... Jeff
Udo Kier .... Dr. Porkorny
Joel Grey .... Oldrich Novy
Vincent Paterson .... Samuel
Cara Seymour .... Linda Jean-Marc
Barr .... Norman Vladan
Kostic .... Gene
Produced by Malte Forsell (line), Fridrik Th? Fridriksson (associate),
Finn Gjerdrum (associate), Mogens Glad (associate), Anja Grafers
(associate), Torleif Hauge (associate), Peter Aalbæk Jensen (executive),
Lars J?sson (co-executive), Tero Kaukomaa (associate), Poul Erik
Lindeborg (associate), Marianne Slot (co-executive), Els Vandevorst
(associate), Vibeke Windel?
Original music by Bj?k
Cinematography by Robby M?ler
Film Editing by François Gédigier and Molly Marlene Stensgaard
R for some violence.
hi-res (13 MB) 480x360
(5.6 MB) 320x240
(2.1 MB) 240x180
Trailer RealVideo Clip
Trailer RealVideo Broadband
don't need eyes to see.
Selma Jezkova (Bj?k) is a Czech immigrant, a single mother living
in a trailer with her ten year-old son, Gene. Selma and Gene rent
their home from their next-door neighbors, the local policeman Bill
(Dave Morse) and his wife, Linda (Cara Seymour). Bill and Linda
are model neighbors, often watching Gene while Selma works.
works at a tool and die factory making stainless steel sinks; she
supplements her income in her free time by carding hairpins. A hereditary
disease is rapidly robbing Selma of her sight and she is determined
to put away enough money to secure an operation for Gene before
he suffers the same fate.
the evenings, Selma and her friend Kathy (Catherine Deneuve) rehearse
for an amateur production of 'The Sound of Music.' Their enthusiasm
makes up for their inexperience although Kathy has only agreed to
take part to humor her friend. Selma is playing Maria. Occasionally,
the two friends go to the movies to watch musicals. To the annoyance
of the rest of the audience, Kathy describes to Selma what her friend
can not see.
suspects that Selma's vision is far worse than she lets on and she
is surprised when her friend manages to pass an eye test required
by the factory. In fact, Selma has copied the eye chart and committed
it to memory. Meanwhile, her sight grows worse by the day.
has an admirer, Jeff (Peter Stormare), who waits patiently outside
the factory every day in hope that she will accept a lift home.
Selma always refuses Jeff, but he waits for her anyway.
evening, Selma's neighbor Bill confesses that his savings are exhausted
and he fears that he will lose his house. Bill can't bring himself
to tell his spendthrift wife, Linda, who thinks he has a private
income. Selma confides in Bill that she is going blind and that
she has almost saved enough money to pay for an operation for Gene.
Bill and Selma part with the promise to keep their respective secrets.
the factory, Selma finds it increasingly difficult to disguise her
failing eyesight. She is continually distracted by the rhythm of
the presses and the clattering of the steel sinks and begins to
imagine that she and her co-workers are in a musical. The hissing
and clanging of the machinery inspires daydreams of elaborate song
and dance routines. But Selma's imagination is dangerous for an
operator of industrial equipment and her lack of concentration doesn't
go unnoticed by Norman, the shop foreman (Jean-Marc Barr). Kathy
tries to protect her, but she too is worried about Selma's ability
asks Selma for a loan but she gently refuses, reminding him that
her savings will save her child from blindness. He apologizes for
asking. Back at the factory, over Kathy's protests, Selma takes
on a night shift. Kathy is furious but when Selma arrives for her
first night duty, Kathy is there, too.
Bill goes to Selma, but this time he tells her that he has decided
to confess to his wife that they are broke and hope for the best.
He makes as if to leave Selma's trailer but hides in the corner
instead, watching as she stashes her money in its hiding place.
and Kathy go their rehearsal but it's obvious to Selma that she
can't play Maria. She can no longer see the edge of the stage. She
tells the director, Samuel (Vincent Paterson) that she would prefer
to have a smaller part. At work, Norman reluctantly tells her that
he must let her go. He gives Selma her final wage packet.
is waiting for Selma as she leaves the factory and walks her home
along the train tracks. When Selma is nearly hit by an oncoming
freight train, Jeff realizes that her vision has gone. Selma, imagining
that the workers on the flatbed train are performing in her own
private musical, asks Jeff to pick her up that afternoon for a drive.
Arriving home, she goes to her hiding place to stash her final pay
only to find that the tin is empty.
goes to Bill, knowing that he has taken her money. Linda confronts
her, saying that Bill has told her everything: Bill rebuffed Selma's
advances and now she is seeking revenge. Selma insists on seeing
Bill. He admits to taking the money, but refuses to turn it over
until Selma puts him out of his misery. A struggle ensues and Bill
is wounded. He begs her to finish the job and Selma complies. Linda
has gone for the police. Selma, meanwhile, imagines another musical
number full of forgiveness and reconciliation.
the police sirens whine in the distance, Jeff comes for Selma and
at her instructions, drives to a place in the woods. Selma leaves
Jeff and makes her way alone, following a guide rope to the eye
clinic. She successfully deposits her hard fought savings with Dr.
Pokorny (Udo Kier) to ensure Gene's operation.
oblivious to the scene at Bill and Linda's, takes Selma to her final
rehearsal for 'The Sound of Music.' Samuel alerts the police and
Selma is taking into custody.
her trial, the prosecutor presents Selma as scheming and selfish.
She is accused of exaggerating her handicap. Her story of working
to support her elderly father in Czechoslovakia (which she invented
to protect Gene from the truth about his eyesight) is exposed as
a lie. Everything she offers in her own defense is dismissed. Selma
is sent to death row, but not before she invents a courtroom number
in which her imaginary father, the musical comedy star Olrich Novy
(Joel Grey), does a tap routine on the judge's bench.
and Jeff make futile attempts to persuade Selma to enter a new plea.
Selma, however, is unwilling to spend Gene's money on her own defense.
Instead, she passes the time alone in her cell listening for any
sounds that will distract her from the inevitable.
the day arrives, the good hearted prison warden, Brenda (Siobhan
Fallon) helps Selma to make her last walk with dignity. Paralyzed
by fear, together with Brenda, Selma creates the beat for the finale.
von Trier has come up with another woman Christ figure as he did
in Breaking the Waves (although, not done quite as well is Breaking
the Wave's Bess)
in the Dark may find its way to art houses in bigger cities, but
unfortunately, for many it will only find its way to cable sometime
in the future. (It's rated R and runs 2:20)
basic plot revolves around Selma (played by Icelandic singer Bjork),
a Czech who has come to the US in the early 60's where she and her
son live in the state of Washington. Selma works operating a machine
in a sink factory. She also spends her time putting bobby pins on
cards as piece work to make extra money. She's going blind, and
knows that her son will have the same problem, so she is saving
the money for him to have an operation. Selma daydreams about life
being a musical -- and this picture turns into a musical, but not
like any musical you've ever seen.
terms of performance, the film may not get enough play for Bjork
to be nominated for an academy award, but you won't see a better
performance. The rest of the cast, including Catherine Deneuve,
also provide excellent work.
is a strange movie. The tone of the movie is dark, but it is also
a musical. The musical/daydream aspect is also a striking contrast
to von Trier's handheld camera work, which makes the film extremely
lifelike. (vonTrier is one of the original signatories of Dogma
although this film does not fit the Dogma criteria. But the influence
of the Dogma concept is still very obvious.) She is truly an innocent,
but the movie ends with her being hung in prison - a very powerful
the scenes I found most interesting, was the march to the execution.
She is going in silence. She refuses to have her case reopened and
have her sentence commuted because it would take the $ she has saved
for her son's operation. She chooses to give him sight, rather than
to live. But this scene of the walk from cell to the execution chamber
is a great example of the mix of reality and daydream that occurs
throughout the movie. She is willing to go, but afraid. Her body
falls beneath the weight of her own cross, but as she walks along,
she (in her daydream) sings and dances. At the execution, her friends
are there as witnesses, just as the disciples watched at a distance.
After she is hung, the camera moves back up to the platform where
now just one guard stands, very much like the centurion at the cross.
is a difficult and an intense movie. It certainly dominated my wife's
and my conversation at dinner after we saw it. It can be unnerving.
Before the movie the manager of the theater came into the theater
and thanked the viewers for being willing to try something different
in movies. It certainly is.
-- Darrel Manson
Pastor, Artesia Christian Church, Artesia, CA
Subject: Dancer in the Dark
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2000
in the Dark" is the biggest fraud perpetrated on the moviegoing
public since "The Phantom Menace." The shaky-cam made me dizzy within
the first 20 minutes. I work at a theater in Chicago that's showing
the film and we've been getting complaints about this from since
opening day. What is this movie anyway? It fails as a musical. I
often times had a hard time understanding what Bjork was saying
through her thick Icelandic accent. With one exception, the musical
numbers added nothing of value to the to the plot, characterizations,
or articulating the themes of the story. I read that Lars Trier
(he added the "von" himself) used up to 100 cameras to shoot the
musical numbers. Any director worth his salt knows what to shoot
and doesn't need 100 cameras. And what is it with the plot. Didn't
any one investigating the murder think to find out about the money
that was stolen. Why didn't anybody ask the bank if the cop had
withdrawn the money from an account? Talk about an ugly movie. Enough
with the digital video. It ain't film. Film stock is capable of
rendering the wash out colors and much better able to deliver the
rich, bright colors. Shame on the great Robby Muller for putting
his name on this junk. Skip this overwrought, thoughtless movie
and rent "Singin' in the Rain."
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000
From: Adele Sakler
In The Dark is one of the best films i have seen in a long time!
It is disturbing, moving, inspiring, thought-provoking, passionate,
and beautiful. It says a lot when twice it is brought up as to why
Selma did not abort Gene knowing she would pass on her eye disease
to him and she decided to keep him. Today, the woman would have
aborted the baby. i found the musical numbers wonderful and an escape
not only for Selma, but the audience as well, from the sometimes
overwhelming and sad lives of these people. B^jork's voice is rich
and haunting and perfect for the story. i think word-of-mouth will
sell this film. In my opinion, B^jork should be nominated and take
home the staue next spring for THE BEST ACTRESS! All the actors
were strong and realistic. Catherine Deneuve was awesome and looked
beautiful. David Morse nailed his character, Bill. What a turn from
the role he played as a kind prison guard in The Green Mile! He
is a wonderful and versatile actor. i loved Peter Stormare as the
faithful yet clueless Jeff. One of my favorite characters was the
sympathetic prison guard. Most times prison guards are played as
cruel, hard, unfeeling, and violent jerks. It was nice to see the
guard extend empathy, kindness, compassion, and concern for Selma.
i loved the foreshadowing Selma gave us to the end of the film.
She tells Bill that she hates the ending of musicals because then
they are over and that they should end before the last song begins.
She states that when the last song is played the camera pulls back
and rises. This is exactly what happens at the end of this film/musical.
It is sad yet poetic. Definitely worth repeat viewings as there
is so much said with depth and can be missed as one hangs on to
these passionately spoken words, because ultimately, the scene has
to move on.
Bravo, Lars von Trier! Bravo,