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Critics have pounced on this feature of the movie, accusing von Trier of anti-Americanism. I feel such paranoid jibes completely miss the point: although Dogville is set in a fictional village in the Rockies during the Depression-era, it really could be any place, any time. It is anti-human-ugliness. The tagline reads "A quiet little town not far from here", and the sparse stage set reinforces that point. The viewer's imagination is meant to fill in the gaps, making Dogville their home town for nearly three hours.
The theme veers around Grace (Nicole Kidman) arrives, seeking shelter from pursuing gangsters, the natives are reluctant to help. With the assistance of a local 'philosopher' (played by Paul Bettany), she eventually persuades the inhabitants to relent, and they grant her a two week trial period. During the fortnight, she manages to win the villagers over by performing good deeds, but gradually they begin to take advantage of her kindness and the rot sets in.
This is an extremely long film, but it is definitely worth the effort. It is an allegory of staggering proportions, it deals with virtually every aspect of humanity and some of the most fundamental questions people can face, whilst maintaining a lightness of touch that makes the mental workout more than bearable. Did it have to be 3 hours? No. But nor did the Matrix or LOTR or the Titanic.
So empty the tank, order a pizza and coke, and settle down for 180 minutes of cinematic genius.
The Depression Years in America, a time of gangsters, poverty and minimal communication of world events to the tiny towns on the Midwest. Dogville is a rural small town in the Midwest peopled by what appear to be good folk. Into this scene enters a beautiful girl on the run Grace (a luminous Nicole Kidman) who seems to be in flight from gangsters. The town's philosopher Tom (Paul Bettany in an extraordinary performance) finds Grace, hides her in the town's mineshaft (over the door is the inscription 'Speak the Truth'...), and convinces the townsfolk to harbor her. In exchange for this kindness Grace must do some work for each of them everyday as a gesture of good will. When the police come looking for Grace later, the townsfolk still protect her but the price is doubling the amount of work she must do in reparation. Slowly this town of kind appearing folk become wary of Grace, start lies about her, abuse her sexually and physically, and eventually fetter her as their prisoner.Read more ›
However, it's interesting to note how quickly we can become accustomed to the terms the movie sets out for us. In spite of the invariably slow pace that the movie insists upon to draw out its narrative, what initially might have seemed jarring in the absence of background music and the use of a single set is quickly accepted and, by the end of the movie, these conventions are barely missed. This is primarily because of the strength of the performances throughout, and it is the credibility of the moral decay of the town's inhabitants that ensures the audience's interest. However, it is perhaps also unfortunately true that very few of the characters seem to exist for their own sake.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Didn't know I was going to be watching a High School Play. Did not like it!Published 6 hours ago by Dave
Great cast but movies about plays are not my cup of tea. Outlines of streets, homes and partial rooms is imaginative but for me the story line is a little too much...Published 23 hours ago by Jaromir Bon
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|You had sex in front of children in this movie.||
First, let's be honest here, this was not a sex scene, this was a scene where a woman is raped. There is a difference. Second, it was two actors acting a rape scene. This was not a case of two "actual" adults having "actual" sex in front of children. There is a difference.... Read More
Aug 12, 2006 by Peter Wood | See all 17 posts
|Is it acceptable to let children watch adults have sex?||
Jun 30, 2007 by Alex Ferdman | See all 2 posts
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