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Epidemic

3.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Sep 21, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From controversial director Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dogville, Dancer in the Dark) comes the bizarre story of a director (played by von Trier himself) and a writer who create a script about a mysterious plague that engulfs Europe, only to find their horrific scenario coming true in real life. Featuring Udo Kier (Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, Suspiria, Armageddon), Epidemic is a dark and original horror film with a twist: Is the epidemic real, or is it only a dark figment of von Trier's imagination?

Amazon.com

It's reassuring to know Lars von Trier was always unconventional. Epidemic, von Trier's second feature, comes close to being a horror movie, except it keeps derailing itself to noodle while a director (played by von Trier) and screenwriter (screenwriter Niels Vorsel) improvise a scenario about a plague epidemic. Their struggles are shot in grainy 16 mm., while flashes of the intended film are in stunning 35. Epidemic is meandering enough to test the patience of even devoted von Trier fans, but it always looks good even when it looks bad, if that makes any sense, and the finale--which involves hypnotism, one of the Danish director's early obsessions--will give a chill to genre fans looking for a "gotcha." Von Trier regular Udo Kier pops up, and the film wouldn't be complete without its logo: the title branded onto the upper-left corner for most of the movie. Lars, you devil. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by Lars von Trier
  • Documentary FREEDOGME featuring Lars von Trier and Wim Wenders

Product Details

  • Actors: Allan De Waal, Ole Ernst, Michael Gelting, Colin Gilder, Svend Ali Hamann
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Danish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002KPHTW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,290 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Epidemic" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
While not Lars von Trier's first feature film, Epidemic is the earliest of his films to be released to DVD and it's a powerful piece of work that blasts wide open the conventions of film--even modern (i.e., as of 1987, when this film was released) ones.

The title refers to a script that Lars and Niels Vorsel are in the process of writing during the film itself, after their first collaborative script, The Cop and the Whore, gets accidentally trashed in a PC crash.

Some interesting markers on the film:

1. shot in black and white

2. the title of the film is shown in red letters with a trademark symbol throughout the entire course of the film in the upper left corner

As these two develop their story, scenes alternate between the two of them--with their friends and acquaintances--and scenes they envision from the film Epidemic. In the film within a film, Lars plays Dr. Mesmer, whose name, of course, evokes that of the famed 19th century hypnotist, but the character is 20th century; in one scene, we see him suspended from a helicopter. Also in the film within a film is an American black priest. The language of the entire film alternates between English and Danish; the priest speaks English and in one wacky scene, Niels reads a letter from an American teenage girl penpal in English, based on his deciding to have some "fun" (if that's what it could be called) by spoofing pen pal correspondence, writing to 70 teenage American girls and pretending to be a Danish teenaged boy.

If this sounds disjointed, from one perspective, it is that, yes. But what it also does is to establish a jarring juxtaposition of mundane day to day life with the horrific story the two filmmakers are developing.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie itself is very unique and original. I absolutely loved it. The switch from 16mm grainy footage to moments of 35mm beauty was just spectacualr, and the narrative the film tells was very intriguing. Most people that I have talk to that have seen this were put down by the red watermark in the upper right hand corner of the film, but I found that it added a whole new level to the film. The watermark appears when the word "Epidemic" is being typed on the cover page of a script that Lars and Neils are working on, and stays mostly visible throughout the film to signify that what you are viewing is the screenplay (or is it? :D) It works for me. The plot takes enough meaningful sharp lefts that it stayed very interesting and kept me asking "Where is this going?" but in a good way.
And that ending...just so freaking awesome. To me, it makes the film worth watching (setting aside the relatively slow pacing at times).

The only thing I have against the film is the song that plays for the end credits...it is so terrible. I mean, if Trier's purpose for the song was to bring the audience out of the experience that the film throws you into, then he achieved his goal. Right after that amazing finale, I was letting the movie sink in, and wating for the credits, and this horrible pop theme song for the film begins playing. I almost shed tears of disappointment. That set aside, the movie, as a whole, is just awesome.

Word to the wise: Take the movie out after it is over, and don't wait for the credits to role...
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Format: DVD
Before the Danish film director Lars von Trier got his worldwide success with The Kingdom and his marvelous Breaking the Waves, he made a trilogy called The trilogy of Europe. Movies whose titles start with the letter E and dealt with the traumas of Europe. Past, present, and possible future. And in the eighties, with the Cold War and fear of attack, there came the panic of imminent death from a nuclear apocalypse. Something that medicine could not cure. And with the apparition of AIDS in the worldwide language, death through an incurable illness could be an unpleasant possibility. So with this film, Lars von Trier and his co-writer Niels Vorls attempt to dive into that subject matter. That is a plague epidemic that spreads through Denmark, Germany, Europe, and, as a possibility, the world. Catastrophe scenario that, in Hollywood, would involve lots of death, guts, and gore. The kind of script you'd see in a zombie film like Night of the Living Dead.

Unfortunately for fans of that horror genre, this is not what happens in Epidemic.

In it, Lars and Niels, playing their own roles as writers, try to summon a new script that they want to present to a Danish Film Institute Executive producer. Abandoning their former detective story with a cop and a prostitute (small nod to Element of Crime!), their new project revolves around a bubonic plague epidemic. Reminder of a crucial past in Europe's medieval history, Epidemic's title appears on the screen the minute the characters start writing their work. Half-diving into scenes from the script then going back to the authors' ups-and-downs trying to write it, the movie happens through this back-and-forth as chapters, an upcoming feature for Lars's future films, appear on the screen.
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