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The Element of Crime (Widescreen)

20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Elphick, Esmond Knight, Me Me Lai, Jerold Wells, Ahmed El Shenawi
  • Directors: Lars von Trier, Fredrik von Krusenstjerna, Stig Björkman
  • Writers: Lars von Trier, Stig Björkman, Niels Vørsel, Stephen Wakelam, William Quarshie
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 19 2000
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780023277
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,139 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

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.

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

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amir W. Saeed on Nov. 29 2002
Format: DVD
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 By hihuy on Jan. 7 2003
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
Before doing his wonderful "Kingdom", then his "Golden Heart", his "American", and his "Depression" trilogies, Lars von Trier did another series of movies he called "The Europa trilogy". Movies that revolved around Europe's social issues in a possible future; which he started in 1984 and completed in 1991. Among them was his first movie, "The Element of Crime", that he presented at Cannes in 1984, where the jury awarded him a technical prize, but no Golden Palm mostly due to the hostile reaction of Dirk Bogarde, President of the Jury that year. Then again, several members of that same jury were sympathetic toward the filmmaker, among them Isabelle Huppert who, ironically, would end up seeing and awarding Lars's Antichrist when she would be President of Jury in 2009.

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.
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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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