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Europa

Barbara Sukowa , Jean-Marc Barr , Lars von Trier    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Europa + The Element of Crime (Widescreen) + Epidemic
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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
In his typical scattered narrative, von Trier crafts a hypnotic tale of an American in the post-WWII rubble of Germany, as he gets entangled with a stunning local woman. Problem is, the woman is revealed to have been a dangerous operative during the war with far-from-simple roots.
Sounds like a fairly comprehensible theme to wrap a thriller around, but no, not under the sly lens of von Trier! His screenplay copiously employs his characteristic symbolism, effortlessly morphing between black & white and technicolor, using double-exposures, backprojections, and some fascinating trick photography such as superimpositions.
The resulting murky, obscure atmosphere of psychological disorientation may lead a casual viewer to much the same frustrations as the film's protagonist -- of never quite finding a footing in the surrealistic, trancy goings-on.
But if you prefer ambitious enigmas to lacklustre boxoffice hits, then give this truly challenging film a chance.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Europa Dec 22 2012
By amanda
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
item was sent fast and dilvered quickly. I havent opened it to watch yet because it is a christmas gift but I am sure it is in great condition, just like the packaging.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A milestone in cinema, a gravestone for the human condition April 20 2002
By Jeff Dunn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Zentropa is simply the greatest film since "Citizen Kane." An American works as a sleeping-car conductor on a German railroad in late 1945. Viewers should note carefully the course of a dinner conversation early on in the film where neutrality is condemned by a priest: this is the theme of the film, with a profound relevance to today's political events. Try as he might, the American's attempts to be a understanding "nice guy" serve only to tighten the noose. Yet to be passionate and follow one's beliefs wherever they lead is shown to lead to disaster as well. We are doomed to go through the night of mass murder and war if we are to see the light of day.
The cinematography, utterly commensurate with the claustrophobic theme, brilliant in its conception, an encyclopedia of noire technique; most of the acting; and the conclusion, rivetingly harrowing as any in cinema--all come together in a magnificent work of art that belongs on the shelf of anyone who understands the power of cinema to speak to the heart and mind co-equally.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic July 29 2004
By M. DALTON - Published on Amazon.com
Surely one of the GREATEST directors of all time, this is his masterpiece. Armed with the most hypnotic narration I've ever heard & an extraordinarily abstract form, the story is constantly propelled forward by Max Von Sydow's unmistakable voice. Along with DANCER IN THE DARK, DOGVILLE & BREAKING THE WAVES, ZENTROPA is an unforgettable journey. Please plead with this film's distributor to give it the beautiful widescreen DVD release it deserves.....
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lars von Trier's Early Masterpiece July 4 2010
By Mithridates VI of Pontus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Notable Awards received: Nominated for the Palm d'Or Cannes, Won Best Artistic Contribution Cannes, Won Jury Prize Cannes, Won Technical Grand Prize

For some reason despite my obsession with European cinema I've never felt compelled to watch the works of the Danish l'enfant terrible Lars von Trier (he gave the finger to the judges at Cannes when Europa failed to win the Palm d'Or). However, desperate to find something worthwhile to watch I discovered Europa. And, with Max von Sydow's stunning introductory narration telling me to be seduced, I was seduced, but by what exactly? I'm still not exactly sure but I shall try desperately/earnestly to explain myself.

But first...

It is necessary to detach yourself from the Lars von Trier of Breaking the Waves, Dogville, and Manderlay. This film was made in his pre-Dogma film style.

And...

... here's a limited non-spoiler plot summary: An American pacifist named Leopold Kessler travels to post-WWII Germany to find a job. He joins his alcoholic uncle as a sleeping-car conductor for the mysterious Zentropa railways which crisscross Germany. Eventually he falls for the daughter, Katharina Hartmann, of the owner of Zentropa and becomes involved with a shadowy conspiracy against Germany's occupiers.

And the viewer enters a the visually stunning nightmarish world of post-War Germany rendered brilliantly by Lars von Trier's camera: characters interacting with back screen projections, heavy contrast black and white (think Welles' The Third Man), highly selective use of color (think Tarkovsky's Solyaris), and hallucinatory nighttime journeys through train stations, train cars, tunnels...

Lars von Trier deliberately deconstructs (reverently) American film-noir thrillers. I must admit that I was so entranced by the individual images of this sumptuous/disturbing feast that Lars von Trier's apparent message became of secondary importance. Is this supposed to be an apologetic piece? Perhaps most importantly, does it have historical locality -- i.e. directly an attack on the "idealistic" American occupation after the war? Or, is this a parable to be divorced from its historical locality?

Perhaps we should look at this film more explicitly as a reinterpretation of The Third Man more than simply as an homage. In Welles' The Third Man an American author uncovers the corruption of another American in post-war Vienna. Here, an idealistic American discovers a group of Germans--completely desensitized by the constant death surrounding them during the war--who still "fight" for Germany despite the continued loss of human life. This group of Germans manipulate the American who does not understand the environment he's entering. The Germans perpetuate destruction but their reasoning remains aloof yet somehow even dignified. What are we to make of this reinterpretation of the players in post-War Germany?

And it is here that words fail me. I was absorbed completely by the murky waters of von Trier's Europa and I'm strangely satisfied by this unresolved murkiness.

Pretty pictures cast spells.

A truly remarkable experience. Its message, if it has one, remains strangely distant.

And so I implore you -- Listen to Max von Sydow

"You will now listen to my voice. My voice will help you and guide you still deeper into Europa. Every time you hear my voice, with every word and every number, you will enter into a still deeper layer, open, relaxed and receptive...."

An absolutely worthwhile film. Find it! Watch it!
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how movies are made... May 23 2000
By Nikolaj Hawaleschka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
"Zentropa" (or "Europa" as it is called in Europe) marks the end of Lars von Trier's (the director) Europe-trilogy, which started in 1986 with "The Element of Crime" followed by "Epedemic". "Zentropa" is a real film-noir in Hitchkock style. The movie, like the rest of the Europe-trilogy, was a co-production between Lars von Trier and Niels Vørsel; both great screenwriters.
The thing which is so special about "Zentropa" are: 1) It is made without ANY digital effects. 2) It is shoot in B/W. 3) All importent elements in the movie have colour (a thing Spielberg stole from Trier, when he made "Schientlers List"). 4) It has a great story. 5) It is a Trier film.
The cinematography is great, so is the acting; especially Max von S. is great. Also notice that Lars von Trier himself has a small role.
If you want to know more about this film, you should read the book "Lars von Triers elements". If you are just looking for some saturdaynight entertaintment...this is not what you want. However if you want so see a quality movie in world class, this is a modern classic... Don't miss it.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Artistic and Enigmatic Tale of a Broken Europe... Oct. 7 2004
By Kim Anehall - Published on Amazon.com
The voice of Max von Sydow hypnotizes the audience by stating, "You will now listen to my voice..." as he continuous to count to ten, which pulls the viewer into a nightmarish dream. Simultaneously the opening shot of railroad tracks is flashing by, which visually puts the viewer in a trance as the screen turns black. This beginning incites the audience participation as the film definitely requires a high level of cognitive participation, unlike most films made where the story is driven by the scripted dialogue. Zentropa becomes a visual and aural journey that mesmerizes the audience in a highly artistic manner.

Comparisons have been made with David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977), Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), and the director Wim Wender's cinematic creations. Despite the previous comparisons, Lars von Trier creates a unique cinematic experience that could be compared to an artistic and political journey into the aftermath of World War II. Cities lay in ruin and people suffer from starvation as the artery, the railroads of Zentropa, of the recovering Europa continues its exploitation of the people as it carted off millions to a certain death in the Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau during the war. This creates a tense Machiavellian atmosphere where fear, paranoia, and anxiety have a firm grip of the people. This causes most people to alienate themselves from society.

The cinematic journey begins with German-American Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) who departs United States after the end of World War II for Germany. When Leopold arrives to the shattered Germany he is greeted by Uncle Kessler (Ernst-Hugo Järegård) who gets him a job as a train conductor on one of the luxurious sleeping-cars of Zentropa. Through work Leopold meet Katharina Hartmann (Barbara Sukowa), the daughter of the owner of Zentropa, with whom he falls in love. However, Leopold's desire for Katharina drags him into a dangerous affair of terrorism, politics, friendship, and murder.

The pacifist Leopold tries to balance his life through abstention of politics, avoidance, not choosing sides, and minding his own business, which is also suggested by his Uncle Kessler. However, no matter how hard Leopold tries to follow his own policy he is forced into situations where he must choose a side as it would otherwise have a catastrophic affect on the people for which he cares. Eventually Leopold finds out the hard way that choices must be made based on his own conscious.

Lars von Trier plays with the visuals throughout the film as a painter would with a new innovative color that would revolutionize art forms. The film is shot in black and white with occasional insertions of color, which enhances the cinematic importance of moment. Von Trier also uses trick photography and double exposures in order to artistically magnify the shot, which creates personalized imprints in the audience's cinematic experience. Ultimately, von Trier pushes the envelop as his message is decoded through his brilliant enigmatic tale of a broken Europe where unity is the sole answer for the continent.
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