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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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The Element of Crime (Widescreen) + Epidemic + Europa
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

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 5 star DVD edition Jan. 7 2003
By hihuy
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enh ruute, ennh ruute! 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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4.0 out of 5 stars From the director of "Dogville"... May 30 2004
By Ted
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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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 star DVD edition Jan. 7 2003
By hihuy
Format:DVD
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. 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 Not Just Pretty To Look At Sept. 22 2002
Format:DVD
Lars von Trier's debut film may be a bit arty for some but can be quite fullfiling if you have the patience. The story of Fischer, a cop who seems to be solving a string of murders using a kind of "method" investigating, is told as if it were a dream. The dream motif is a simple device that allows von Trier to make the entire film dark and dreary. Deeply saturated browns and reds are nearly the only color in the film and give it a feeling not unlike Blade Runner. Some have argued that von Trier is heavily influenced by science fiction but this leads me to wonder where else this influence appears in his work?
What I find less than great about this film is it's slow meandering plot and the absence of tradgedy or anguish that marks von Trier's latter and more inspired work.
A good documentary about von Trier is included on the DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal movie, phenomenal DVD. June 6 2002
Format:DVD
Watch this DVD on a good television with a good sound system turned up loud and you'll never be the same. I must have watched this DVD at least 20 times since it came out not too long ago. The meticulous cinematography and trance-inducing narration allow the viewer to sink into another world, and it's just not as interesting here as it is there. The transfer is spotless, the sound is rich and lush, and there's a documentary on Lars von Trier called Transformer which, if you're a die hard fan of him, you'd probably dig. This is an essential DVD to own.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Surreal images and incoherent dialog March 8 2002
By A Customer
Format:DVD
VERY SLOW pace and sparce dialog. If you're really into into Lynchian styled movies it's worth a rent.
Check out "Insomnia" if you're looking for artsy european psychological drama.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Film For Film Students Only July 1 2001
Format:DVD
Lars von Trier made this film, his first, before his masterpiece, "Zentropa" (known as "Europa" also). I saw "Zentropa" before seeing this film so this film was a disappointment to me. You can see him working with many of the same ideas and concepts that he would ultimately use in "Zentropa" in this film. If you are a film student and want to see an artist's growth from sketching out an idea (this film) to fully realizing his idea ("Zentropa"), then you might want to see this film. If you are studying an artist's work, frequently it is just as useful to study their mistakes as their successes. For the non-film student, however, the film merely offers some interesting possibilities and ideas. Invest your money in finding a copy or screening of "Zentropa" instead is my advice.
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