Lars Von Trier's Europa: on the Count of Ten...

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Date Submitted: 05/05/2013 03:46 PM

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“On the count of ten, you will be in Europa,” narrates Max von Sydow while we watch train tracks beneath us during the beginning of this 1991 film. There are many different artistic aspects of Europa that prove it’s a very unique film.

One of the many aspects of this film directed by Lars von Trier is that the film often transfers between black-and-white and color Wizard of Oz-style. However, instead of doing the clichéd version where everything is so boring and black-and-white until we’re introduced with excitement and color, we move back and forth between telling the story in a Hollywood Casablanca styled way (which is in color) and a noire approach to the story (which is in black-and-white).

Another interesting decision by von Trier is to have layers of storytelling within one scene. An example of this is when Leo and Kat have their first kiss under a table at a party while, in the background, we watch the party. This shot effectively shows two things that are happening at the same time. It is also a tribute to film in the sense that the front story almost seems like it takes place in a movie theater whereas the background story almost seems to take place on the silver screen. There is another scene like this in which a little boy hired by the Werewolves (an underground secret Nazi group) shoots and kills a Jewish man who has recently been elected for mayor. It is filmed as if the boy is in the movie theater watching the man as he shoots the screen. It even shows the screen being punctured by the bullet.

Another interesting scene is when Max continuously stabs himself (and eventually kills himself) with a razor blade. This is interesting because the scene is not specifically dedicated to black-and-white or color; and it doesn’t follow the usual pattern of golden-age romance vs. modern noir. This scene is done in black-and-white except for the blood that is drawn from his stabbings, which is brightly emphasized in red. This is to show that, at that moment, it...