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
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.
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.