Monday, 2 November 2015

Revisiting The Element of Crime

Michael Elphick wades thru a drowned world in The Element of Crime… I watched Lars Von Trier's 1984 debut yesterday evening, my third viewing of the film over the years and it remains as frustrating and dazzling as ever. The Red Dragon-style plot never quite works for me and I find myself too easily slipping in and out of the narrative, but the film’s extraordinary visuals always win me over, with Northern Europe re-imagined as a water-logged terminal rubbish dump, everything cast in a sickly rust sepia. Nick James wrote about the film in last month’s Sight & Sound examining the film’s Tarkovskian elements, most notably the influence of Stalker, both films sharing exhausted leading men and tracking shots of submerged flotsam, but watching The Element of Crime again, Eraserhead and Hard to Be A God came to mind - two other films set in a completely immersive environment. And oddly enough I found myself thinking of Derek Jarman’s The Last of England as well…


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