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Zentropa (2003)

Barbara Sukowa , Jean-Marc Barr , Lars von Trier  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Zentropa + The Element of Crime (The Criterion Collection) + Dogville
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Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Sukowa, Jean-Marc Barr, Udo Kier, Ernst-Hugo Järegård, Erik Mørk
  • Directors: Lars von Trier
  • Writers: Lars von Trier, Niels Vørsel
  • Producers: Bo Christensen, François Duplat, Gunnar Obel, Gérard Mital, Patrick Godeau
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, German
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 8, 2003
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008978H
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #996,193 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Zentropa" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Praised as one of the top films of the year, ZENTROPA is an erotic, passionate thriller delivering nonstop, suspense-filled excitement. In this Hitchcock-like tale, Leo Kessler, an American visiting devastated postwar Germany, gets seduced by a beautiful woman and suddenly finds himself caught in a never-ending web of mystery and intrigue. Leo's nightmarish journey takes him through a hypnotizing maze of romance, passion, and betrayal -- leading to acts of terrorism, and finally, murder. With its many plot twists and heart-stopping surprises, this riveting, seductive thriller is sure to entertain from beginning to end.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Zentropa is simply the greatest film since "Citizen Kane." An American works as a sleeping-car conductor on a German railroad in late 1945. Viewers should note carefully the course of a dinner conversation early on in the film where neutrality is condemned by a priest: this is the theme of the film, with a profound relevance to today's political events. Try as he might, the American's attempts to be a understanding "nice guy" serve only to tighten the noose. Yet to be passionate and follow one's beliefs wherever they lead is shown to lead to disaster as well. We are doomed to go through the night of mass murder and war if we are to see the light of day.
The cinematography, utterly commensurate with the claustrophobic theme, brilliant in its conception, an encyclopedia of noire technique; most of the acting; and the conclusion, rivetingly harrowing as any in cinema--all come together in a magnificent work of art that belongs on the shelf of anyone who understands the power of cinema to speak to the heart and mind co-equally.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic July 29, 2004
Surely one of the GREATEST directors of all time, this is his masterpiece. Armed with the most hypnotic narration I've ever heard & an extraordinarily abstract form, the story is constantly propelled forward by Max Von Sydow's unmistakable voice. Along with DANCER IN THE DARK, DOGVILLE & BREAKING THE WAVES, ZENTROPA is an unforgettable journey. Please plead with this film's distributor to give it the beautiful widescreen DVD release it deserves.....
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lars von Trier's Early Masterpiece July 4, 2010
Notable Awards received: Nominated for the Palm d'Or Cannes, Won Best Artistic Contribution Cannes, Won Jury Prize Cannes, Won Technical Grand Prize

For some reason despite my obsession with European cinema I've never felt compelled to watch the works of the Danish l'enfant terrible Lars von Trier (he gave the finger to the judges at Cannes when Europa failed to win the Palm d'Or). However, desperate to find something worthwhile to watch I discovered Europa. And, with Max von Sydow's stunning introductory narration telling me to be seduced, I was seduced, but by what exactly? I'm still not exactly sure but I shall try desperately/earnestly to explain myself.

But first...

It is necessary to detach yourself from the Lars von Trier of Breaking the Waves, Dogville, and Manderlay. This film was made in his pre-Dogma film style.


... here's a limited non-spoiler plot summary: An American pacifist named Leopold Kessler travels to post-WWII Germany to find a job. He joins his alcoholic uncle as a sleeping-car conductor for the mysterious Zentropa railways which crisscross Germany. Eventually he falls for the daughter, Katharina Hartmann, of the owner of Zentropa and becomes involved with a shadowy conspiracy against Germany's occupiers.

And the viewer enters a the visually stunning nightmarish world of post-War Germany rendered brilliantly by Lars von Trier's camera: characters interacting with back screen projections, heavy contrast black and white (think Welles' The Third Man), highly selective use of color (think Tarkovsky's Solyaris), and hallucinatory nighttime journeys through train stations, train cars, tunnels...

Lars von Trier deliberately deconstructs (reverently) American film-noir thrillers.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how movies are made... May 23, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
"Zentropa" (or "Europa" as it is called in Europe) marks the end of Lars von Trier's (the director) Europe-trilogy, which started in 1986 with "The Element of Crime" followed by "Epedemic". "Zentropa" is a real film-noir in Hitchkock style. The movie, like the rest of the Europe-trilogy, was a co-production between Lars von Trier and Niels Vørsel; both great screenwriters.
The thing which is so special about "Zentropa" are: 1) It is made without ANY digital effects. 2) It is shoot in B/W. 3) All importent elements in the movie have colour (a thing Spielberg stole from Trier, when he made "Schientlers List"). 4) It has a great story. 5) It is a Trier film.
The cinematography is great, so is the acting; especially Max von S. is great. Also notice that Lars von Trier himself has a small role.
If you want to know more about this film, you should read the book "Lars von Triers elements". If you are just looking for some saturdaynight entertaintment...this is not what you want. However if you want so see a quality movie in world class, this is a modern classic... Don't miss it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The voice of Max von Sydow hypnotizes the audience by stating, "You will now listen to my voice..." as he continuous to count to ten, which pulls the viewer into a nightmarish dream. Simultaneously the opening shot of railroad tracks is flashing by, which visually puts the viewer in a trance as the screen turns black. This beginning incites the audience participation as the film definitely requires a high level of cognitive participation, unlike most films made where the story is driven by the scripted dialogue. Zentropa becomes a visual and aural journey that mesmerizes the audience in a highly artistic manner.

Comparisons have been made with David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977), Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), and the director Wim Wender's cinematic creations. Despite the previous comparisons, Lars von Trier creates a unique cinematic experience that could be compared to an artistic and political journey into the aftermath of World War II. Cities lay in ruin and people suffer from starvation as the artery, the railroads of Zentropa, of the recovering Europa continues its exploitation of the people as it carted off millions to a certain death in the Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau during the war. This creates a tense Machiavellian atmosphere where fear, paranoia, and anxiety have a firm grip of the people. This causes most people to alienate themselves from society.

The cinematic journey begins with German-American Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) who departs United States after the end of World War II for Germany. When Leopold arrives to the shattered Germany he is greeted by Uncle Kessler (Ernst-Hugo Järegård) who gets him a job as a train conductor on one of the luxurious sleeping-cars of Zentropa.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Almost compared to David Lynch.
Published 2 months ago by Katrina23
5.0 out of 5 stars artful, mesmerizing page of history
Dark and tense post- WWII Germany greets idealistic american, Jean Marc Barr, come to help re-build the nation only to stumble into the hands of secret terrorist groups... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Micaela Porte
3.0 out of 5 stars Overindulgent
Europa is a surreal experience, but incredible overindulgent even for Von Trier. Enjoyable film, but it won't change your life.
Published 17 months ago by David Shinault
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ocean that Mirrors the Sky
At the beginning of the film Europa a hypnotic mental countdown invites the viewer to enter the strange demilitarized world of post-war Germany where American soldiers, determined... Read more
Published 17 months ago by The Outsider
4.0 out of 5 stars You want to wake up to free yourself of the image of Europa, but it is...
In post-Nazi Germany, Leo, a young American man of German descent gets a job with the help of his uncle working the railway. Read more
Published on September 11, 2012 by Andrew Ellington
2.0 out of 5 stars I guess antichrist is his only good cut...
I saw antichrist first (yeah, I know, boo hiss.), and was frankly blown away by the juxtaposition of the jittery handheld approach with the painfully slow and beautiful shots. Read more
Published on March 25, 2011 by jordan333
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic and dream-like, a unique and haunting experience
Set in post-war Germany, an American consciencious objector, with German roots, returns to the land of his ancestory with nobel intentions. Read more
Published on November 3, 2010 by Bartok Kinski
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie.
It's not a movie for everyone, but it is definitely a treat if you're looking for something out of the "Hollywood" norm.
Published on February 15, 2010 by Lissy
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to Like It, but Ultimately Not Interesting Enough
I know this film Europa (also known as Zentropa) is supposed to be great, but ultimately, I just found it quite uninteresting. Read more
Published on October 9, 2009 by Glenn Gallagher
4.0 out of 5 stars Europa
I really enjoyed this picture on the first viewing. However, it needs multiple viewings for full appreciation. Read more
Published on September 12, 2009 by C. J. Rollins
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