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The Element of Crime (Widescreen)

Michael Elphick , Esmond Knight , Lars von Trier , Fredrik von Krusenstjerna    Unrated   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Frequently Bought Together

The Element of Crime (Widescreen) + Epidemic + Europa
Price For All Three: CDN$ 147.16

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  • Epidemic CDN$ 68.37
  • Europa CDN$ 42.99

Product Details

Product Description


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

Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enh ruute, ennh ruute! Nov. 29 2002
of all the film i've seen, this film stands at #1, though i'm quite indifferent to lars von trier in general as a filmmaker, he's done it on celluloid folks, notice the move to the digital format.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 star DVD edition Jan. 7 2003
By hihuy
This movie should only be seen on high definiton TV's or a PC. Video transfer is amazing! It's not that faces are just clearly seen, it's the colors that amaze me. The Director tried to show imaginary, nightmarish post-apocalyptic world using "shades of sepia, with occasional, startling flashes of bright blue". He did an excellent job. In my opinion movies should show a viewer something he or she never saw before, the world he or she never been to. I think that's the main point of this movie and the DVD shows the version of it as close to the Director's vision as possible. I refer to Criterion Collection DVD edition.
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4.0 out of 5 stars From the director of "Dogville"... May 30 2004
By Ted
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars after the west's last gasp April 22 2001
Having recently seen both Zentropa and the Element of Crime, I must say that I slightly prefer the Element of Crime (though Zentropa should not be missed). In fact, it is one of the finest movies that I've rented this year. This being said, I would not recommend it to everyone. The affect of the film is muted, cold, and damp. Water spills over everything. It is perpetually night. There is a sense of exhaustion and of failed eschatology. The world of Europe has ended in a wet whimper. Every character in the film is damaged, disaffected, and alienated. This is not a fast paced film, nor a "feel good" film with a message we can comfortably take away. The imagery, however, is unforgettable. The sepia and bright green are at times hypnotic, at other times the colors of nightmare. The overall effect is profoundly disturbing. It reminded me, at various moments, of Beckett, Tarkovsky, Greenaway, and Lynch. If this sounds good, you might like the movie. Not, however, for fans of the oeuvre of James Cameron or Robert Zemeckis. I fear it is not something made for those cursed with short attention spans.
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2.0 out of 5 stars See anything else by Lars, but not this Jan. 24 2001
I was sure that I would like this film. I have seen everything Lars Von Trier has made -- save "The Idiots" -- and I have nothing but good things to say about his work. "The Element of Crime," however, is far from his best.
The first problem with the film is that it's flat-out dull. And I have nothing against dullness per se; a film can be nearly unwatchable but also be very interesting. Godard's Alphaville is perhaps a good example of this. However, The Element of Crime is also not very interesting. Stylistically it is decent, and one could say impressive for a first time director. For those of you who have seen "The Kingdom," Element is filmed in the same yellowish shades. There are also a number of wonderful shots and sequences.
But these stylistic virtues cannot redeem "Element." If you want interesting earlier Von Trier, see "Zentropa" instead -- a movie I can unequivocally recommend. Unfortunately it is out-of-print now.
The problem with Amazon's reviews is that they are mostly written either by people who love the movie or people who hate it. Usually you've got to have either some great passion or animus to spend time writing a review. Thus you often don't get an accurate representation of a film or book from the reviews. I neither hate nor love this film, thus I think I can offer the average reader who is interested in it a fair perspective. I would say that if you like Lars you find this film at the local video store, go ahead and rent it. But in the name of all that's holy, do not waste $36 on the DVD or $18 on the VHS. Trust me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for Von Trier Fans Dec 31 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Original, cutting edge, and riveting. All what you'd expect from this film pioneer that breaks all the rules to redefine modern cinema. Love him or hate him, he's a breath of fresh air in the stale state of current self-absorbed, independent films, not to mention the never ending studpiditiy of Hollywood rehash.
One can't help but compare this title to "Blade Runner", though I believe it makes Ridely Scotts film look like a Disney movie. Cross references throughout include homage to "Apocalypse Now", with equal success at capturing the creepy feel of great film noir classics such as "The Big Sleep". Von Trier creates a whole new world with nothing less then amazing sets and locations. One can only guess where or how he came up wiht these sites.
No doubt Von Trier is to current cinema what David Lynch was to film in the 80's. It seems to all come easy to him, but thats just what'd you'd expect from such a great master who's still far ahead of his time.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Unwatchable Art House Refuse...
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 more
Published on April 27 2004 by H. A Huffman
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 star DVD edition
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 more
Published on Jan. 7 2003 by hihuy
1.0 out of 5 stars unbearable
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 them
Published on Sept. 29 2002 by Volkan Dincer
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Just Pretty To Look At
Lars von Trier's debut film may be a bit arty for some but can be quite fullfiling if you have the patience. Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2002 by sebastian hope
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal movie, phenomenal DVD.
Watch this DVD on a good television with a good sound system turned up loud and you'll never be the same. Read more
Published on June 6 2002 by Eric Schiller
1.0 out of 5 stars Surreal images and incoherent dialog
VERY SLOW pace and sparce dialog. If you're really into into Lynchian styled movies it's worth a rent. Read more
Published on March 8 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars A Film For Film Students Only
Lars von Trier made this film, his first, before his masterpiece, "Zentropa" (known as "Europa" also). Read more
Published on July 1 2001 by carol irvin
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