Dancer in the Dark
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Iíve always been a huge fan of Bjorkís tunes and videos because sheís easily one of the most original artists out there with an unmistakably distinctive voice. When I first heard that she was making the jump over into cinema, I was a bit skeptical of the whole idea. I mean, can a talented Icelandic singer be a convincing actress? Her feature film debut, Dancer in the Dark, gets the Platinum Series treatment in a DVD thatís got a plethora (read: crapload) of extras.
A Czech single mother (Bjork) must suffer through a tiring job in a factory in order to save up money to pay for her young sonís eye operation. While she toils away during the 9 to 5, she drifts off into vivid daydreams which are inspired by old Hollywood musicals. While in her fantasies, sheís able to escape the harsh realties of the real world and the difficulties which plague her life.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I distinctly remember walking out of the theater with JoBlo after first seeing this flick. We both kind of looked at each other and shrugged as I casually remarked: "Not my kind of movie". He heartily agreed. After having said those words only a few months ago, I still stand by what I said. The movie itself is an interesting experiment which ultimately succumbs to its own ingenuity. For example, the concept of shooting a movie in digital is definitely avant garde (courtesy of Lars Von Trier) but quickly got on my nerves. The film also has a documentary feel to it, yet the camera continually bounces around and shakes for most of the movie, leaving the viewer disoriented and distracted.
Furthermore, the movie itself relies heavily on carefully choreographed dance numbers where Bjork spontaneously bursts into both song and dance (I couldnít help but think of Spike Jonzeís music video for "Itís Oh So Quiet"). But the whole thing just didnít work all that well. Why? Without giving away too much of the plot, most of the story revolves around very dark and disturbing themes and the juxtaposition of said elements with "happy" dance numbers ultimately proved too ridiculous to believe or enjoy. While some may view this as brilliant filmmaking, I thinks itís nothing more than glorified art house fare that relies on gimmicks to get its point across. Mind you, despite the movieís flaws, Bjork does deliver an extremely memorable performance. While her character may take getting used to, sheís powerfully convincing and you canít help but feel some level of sympathy for her. But sadly, the overall movie moved along at an excruciatingly slow pace and got bogged down by its dance sequences, which left me frustrated and looking for more. All in all, it was an interesting film which qualifies as middle of the road material.
This is a Platinum Series DVD so by now you already know that you should expect extras out the ying yang and this one ainít no different. First off is "100 Cameras: Capturing Lars Von Trierís Vision" which is a 14-minute documentary detailing the huge task it was to actually film the movie. During many of the dance sequences, up to 100 cameras were used to film the actors from every possible angle and the final product is a collage of footage. We get behind the scenes glimpses of crews setting up little cameras all around the sets and playing with sequential switchers while watching monitors for feedback. This is easily one of the coolest featurettes Iíve seen in some time. Next up is a 24 minute documentary, "Choreography: Creating Vincent Pattersonís Dance Sequences, which does a detailed job of showing early practice footage of all the dancers as they prepared on practice sets for their scenes in the movie. While everything appears so fluid in the finished product, youíll get a real feel for the long hours of preparation they put in.
Also included are 3 alternate scenes which highlight rough footage of different takes on the "Cvalda" (1) and "Iíve Seen It All" (2) dance numbers. Using different angles and shots, theyíre like 3 separate music videos from the movie. "Selmaís Music" is less of a feature as it is an option, itís basically a menu which allows you to view all the songs from the movie. You can also choose to run them consecutively, one after another. The original theatrical trailer finishes up the bonuses. In terms of menus, while theyíre nicely done, they feature no sound or animation, surprising for a movie thatís filled with elaborate songs.
This release is one hell of a hard one to judge but Iíll try and sum things up as best I can. If scoffing popcorn, eating hot dogs and enjoying whatís usually playing in the top 10 at box office characterizes yourself as a person, chances are this ainít your kind of film. If on the other hand, you know the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux wine and enjoy snooty film festivals, youíll probably fall head over heels in love with his flick. With that having been said, itís a solid rental (If only for the wealth of added features) and for fans of the movie, would be a no-brainer and worth buying