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The Element of Crime (Widescreen)
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Lars von Trier's stunning debut film is the story of Fisher, an exiled ex-cop who returns to his old beat to catch a serial killer with a taste for young girls. Influenced equally by Hitchcock and science fiction, von Trier (Zentropa, Breaking the Waves, The Idiots) boldly reinvents expressionist style for his own cinematic vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Shot in shades of sepia, with occasional, startling flashes of bright blue, The Element of Crime (Forbrydelsens Element) combines dark mystery and operatic sweep to yield a pure celluloid nightmare.
It may prove confounding to anyone expecting a more conventional narrative, but The Element of Crime--the debut feature of Danish visionary Lars von Trier--marks the arrival of an audaciously original talent; the film is deeply personal in its inspirations yet richly informed by a pure love of cinema. Approaching a hard-boiled detective plot from a hypnotically subconscious perspective (thus establishing the tone he would echo in his later films Epidemic and Europa), von Trier presents a murder case solved from the inside out. Which is to say, the plot unfolds as recollected under hypnosis by Fisher (Michael Elphick), the grizzled cop who investigates the case.
This framework is arguably beside the point; it's merely von Trier's way of entering a post-apocalyptic world of his own making, flooded and decaying, and filmed entirely in an amber-tinted tone punctuated only by blue police lights and sickly green fluorescents. By following principles of crime solving conceived by his mentor (played by British film veteran Esmond Knight), Fisher closes in on an awful revelation that spins The Element of Crime into another psychological dimension. Multilayered, deliberately paced, and atmospheric in the extreme (which less appreciative viewers may find intolerable), The Element of Crime elicits a dream state that is simultaneously oppressive and visually unforgettable, crammed with symbolic subtleties and cinematic references that can only be fully absorbed over multiple viewings. To say the least, this is a film that grows on you. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
the film is an exploration of (1)madness and (2)the shadow, under hypnosis a police detective reverts back to a case 13yrs back involving the lotto murders in an unnamed post-apocalyptic european ciy, where he uses a technique drawn out in a book called the element of crime, involving the investigator coming to assume the mindset of the killer, a man by the name of harry gray, suspected of subversive activities. it gets thicker.
there is meaning behind the malice, truly.
As a fan of Lars von Trier, I have appreciated many of his movies for their rich stories, the excellent acting and editing, but also their humanity, their sincerity, their emotions, and the excellent roles his female actresses always get to play. Movies where he got to express, as Katrin Cartlidge once explained, his "emotional side". Which he then cohabited with his "technical side" during his "Depression Trilogy" (Antichrist, Melancholia, and Nymphomaniac). Technical side that was very present in "Element of Crime". Too much present.
Indeed when watching the movie, I felt that in focusing too much on his camera effects, his lighting, and his cinematography, Lars had neglected the storyline and the characters. In other words, the human side of the story.Read more ›
This is Lars Von Trier's first major film. It is truly a masterpeice debut. Filmed in monochrome using orange tinted film, it adds a film noir effect to it in a way. There are a few scenes though with shades of blue and green. Just like Dogville, The film is the first in a trilogy.
Element of Crime follows a policeman who returns to Europe to solve a murder after a long stay in Egypt. The film takes place in a post-disaster Northern Europe (it is not said what the disaster is but it appears to be major war)
It is a very dark film and the use of color is very impressive and reminds me of the 1 tone color scenes in "Birth of a Nation" The film obviously slated for an internaional release being a Danish movie but in the English language. Though the original title, "Forbrydelsens element" is Danish.
The DVD also has a 56-minute documantary made in 1997 about Lars Von Trier and his films.
Most recent customer reviews
I wanted to watch a murder mystery, I got this instead. The real "Crime" is the one committed by the director of this boring, hard to watch jumble of a movie. Read morePublished on April 27 2004 by H. A Huffman
This movie should only be seen on a high definiton TV or a PC. Video transfer is amazing! It's not that faces are just clearly seen, it's the colors that amaze me. Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2003 by hihuy
One of the worst movies I have ever seen. I seldom take a movie out of my DVD player without seeing the end...This was one of themPublished on Sept. 29 2002 by Volkan Dincer
Lars von Trier's debut film may be a bit arty for some but can be quite fullfiling if you have the patience. Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2002 by sebastian hope
Watch this DVD on a good television with a good sound system turned up loud and you'll never be the same. Read morePublished on June 6 2002 by Eric Schiller
VERY SLOW pace and sparce dialog. If you're really into into Lynchian styled movies it's worth a rent. Read morePublished on March 8 2002
Lars von Trier made this film, his first, before his masterpiece, "Zentropa" (known as "Europa" also). Read morePublished on July 1 2001 by carol irvin
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