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DANCER IN THE DARK Lars Von Trier Script Analysis and reshooting of scene number 53
“If living is seeing, I’m holding my breath”.
Laura Fernández Izuzquiza Directing The Feature Film Chris Eyre Santa Fe University of Art and Design 25th October 2012
something she can’t take into account. Kathy is Selma’s best friend and she’s from France. They empathize with each other as their immigrant circumstances are similar (poverty. and “Dancer in the Dark”. The movie claims social injustices.FERNÁNDEZ IZUZQUIZA. In the end. it’s also the place where those opportunities lead to overemphasize consumerism until the point where it might take over the people. keeping his position towards the rest of the world. Truth/ Perception/ Fact distortion/ Pretending Lars von Trier uses fact distortion through the whole movie. The goal of the two characters of the selected scene is related to money. When Selma is going through the trial the bad side of the country sublimates. having it or not. he’s a cop. When Selma breaks the machine she’s fired immediately. Workers become a part of a work flow where they become a machine themselves. Bill has a job. Above all. The United States of America embraces everything what she’s looking for: employment. Cvalda. Selma lies en her trial because 2 . In order to get a good defense she would have to spend the little money she has to hire a lawyer. The period of time is the 60’s. It’s a musical and a drama that tells the story of Selma and her son and how she saves him from having a disease that would take is sense of sight away. money. Laura “Dancer in the Dark” is part of what he called the Golden Heart trilogy: “The Fools”. For Selma the US are the place where medicine is advanced enough to get her son the surgery he needs. The first song inspired by the noise the machines do has a part that restores and dignifies that identity: “Listen. For Bill is maintaining the stereotype. Anyway. “Breaking the waves”. Employment/ Industrialization/ Workers chain/ Dehumanization “Dancer in the dark” focuses in many points of social criticism. But the US is also a place where welfare state doesn’t exist. This musical tries to do something different as “In a musical nothing dreadful ever happens”. Her boss. Money/ Contradictions of American way of life/ Capitalism/ Consumerism/ Selma is a Czechoslovak woman that has immigrated to America. “I promised no to say” that what she will say about not explaining the robbery of the money./ You're the dancer. expand their quality of life. However his job is not giving him enough money for the life that he wants. That chain of work erases any trace of the worker’s identity. The difference between what the character’s are perceiving. Musicals represent everything that is good of America’s dream for Selma. step by step. It’s also a country where judiciary is affordable only by wealth families. The film is full of symbols that represent certain stereotypes of the American way of living. It is. On the other hand. The money for him is his “insurance” to be on the top of his own pyramid. There is also a difference between immigrants and Americans. hard workers). As long as he has money Linda will stay with him. it’s all about the money. Selma works in a factory that reduces the workers to a mechanical duty. health. She has so deeply rooted moral values that she won’t defend herself properly during the trial. It’s also the country where she can find a job to save money for that surgery. One of the most important one is the loss of people’s identity because of industrialization. Musicals from the 50’s are The US is represented by these symbols that show the contradictions of the country. keeping on living how he is supposed to. having money means having a wife. American./ You've got the sparkle in your eyes”. reality will hit her to death. the place of freedom where everyone can find a job and. don’t do anything for her. “Mum’s the word” is a sentence stuck in her behavior and she can’t betray her principles. land of opportunities. in fact.
so unbearable. Laura her romanticism and that lie will be her final sentence. Selma’s stubbornness makes her live her life in way that will redeem her from her unconfessed sin. As Selma is going blind. She’s not only extremely demanding with herself. Everything Selma does in her life is for his son. Abnegation/ Self-denial/ Sacrifice/ Martyrdom/ Redemption Abnegation of women is the main theme and a recurrent theme for Lars von Trier. literally. she thinks she doesn’t deserve it. She behaves like if she was fulfilling the conditions of a moral contract. it’s a feeling deeply born inside of her. Her reality is so raw. This is irrationality is directly connected to music. Her obligation is to save his child from that decision. she will confess to Kathy –her best friend that she had Gene because she “just wanted to hold a little baby on (her) arms”. The only thing she can’t control is the one she loves the most.. Abnegation provoked by an unconfessed guilt. She made up her mind according to that. The spine of the story is that se blames herself because she thinks she was selfish. She uses this tool because she cannot control is. Actually. Ultimately she’s going to give her life. That way of thinking also has repercussions on Gene. Also pretending becomes main theme for Bill’s character. She’s committed to her sacrifice and salvation of her son in such a radical way. her son is the object of her demands. She locks herself up into a specific way of behaving. to redeem herself. If she could dominate those feelings her moral values cut her wings in that aspect to as she thinks she doesn’t deserve it. for her purpose. literally. She says more that once that she doesn’t know why she likes it so much. those circumstances didn’t make her think that maybe it was better not to give to birth a human being that would go blind eventually. Selma works every day of her life in order to save his son from the blindness she was condemn to. When she had him she knew her child would inherit her disease. a state where they would hang the convicts condemned to death. Is not that she lives for her son but she stops living for him. She even avoids being loved by Jeff because she doesn’t have time for those beautiful things of life. The movie takes place in Washington during the 60’s. when Selma is already in jail. Moral integrity/ Virtue/ Merit/ Righteousness Selma carries in her shoulders a gigantic weight. Escapism/ Evasion/ Irrationality/ Romanticism Selma shows irrational behavior. he is a complete liar. During her life everything she does she does it to get her goal. From not wanting him to accept a bike from Bill and Linda to avoid seeing him during her stay in 3 . Her romantic feelings for music make this sense to go away from reality. The question that lies there is: Is that enough reason to not to have an already conceived child? Her answer is no. The rope is a symbolic element in the movie that connects to the American expression “tap-dancing at the end of a rope”. which is a big part of her personality. Selma is a radical character. That’s why she goes on daydreaming so much. that her own body pulls her away from.FERNÁNDEZ IZUZQUIZA. hearing substitutes her main way of interacting with the world around her. It’s her main tool to survive. Selma puts a great deal of pressure on his education. “I’m not that sort of mom”. Later on. Her own organism develops that process so she can continue with her life. Her whole life goes is driven by that decision. She gives her life away. She locks herself up into her principles and rarely betrays them (only when she lets Gene have the bike). These themes link to the ending of the movie and the death sentence.
she’s a martyr. There is the conflict. Bill: Bill and Linda represent the perfect American marriage: a housewife and a policeman. Selma: her main objective is to earn enough money for the surgery her son needs. Bill can’t get more loans from the bank and he needs to find another way to get his goal. it’s only the last song if we let it be. Selma denies herself her own happiness to provide Gene’s happiness. a position inside society to feel comfortable with himself. the curtains close up and she rises up to heaven. “They say it’s the last song. Anyway her behavior in not portrayed as an example to follow but is the only way she has to get her main objective. This isn’t the last song. She never has a father so she makes up that her father is Olrich Novy (a tap dancer from the 20’s in Czechoslovakia). We barely see them together. Happiness is not a finishing line but they way life should be lives. She doesn’t have any money so she works har to get enough for the operation. She loves her son so much she will kill and die to get him cured. As Selma and Bill are sharing their objective as characters. Although she dies Gene has the surgery done. More than that she won’t write to him or let anyone say anything to him for her. There are some other biographical features that are important for each character. what they need becomes an obstacle for each other. She creates a great distance between both of them instead of spending her last days of her life as much as she can with him. She’s so obstinate about that she forgets enjoying life with her son. She will realize that when’s she’s about to be hanged: “I should have known I was never alone. When she’ condemned to death she won’t even let Gene come and see her. Bill: his main objective is to keep his wife besides him. The sentence “be happy” should be replaced by “live your life happily”. He used to have an inheritance that he already spent and now he doesn’t have enough money to pay their bills. 4 .” Her mind drastically built. He and his wife want to maintain his lifestyle. she’s so busy she forgets to live her life. Her radical moral values will lead her to death. that motivates the story. it borders a disorder and something supernatural.FERNÁNDEZ IZUZQUIZA. At some point it’s said that she’s a communist. As her wife is a victim of consumerism she spends more than they can really afford. You see. the inherited disease both Selma and Gene have. She’s used to a certain lifestyle and without that Bill knows she will dump him. Linda knows nothing about their debts and he’s not brave enough to tell her. Life should be that thing to go through in order to get as much happiness you can from it. She blames herself and to release herself from that heavy weight she needs to cure him. Gene glasses will fall to the floor at the same time she’s hanged. They don’t know us. Laura jail. Abnegation affects negatively in the relationship between Selma and her son. Selma: she’s a Czechoslovak immigrant.” Selma he denies herself from anything that gives her happiness or pleasure. Selma’s musical is over. Apparently the reason is also for Gene’s benefit: if he doesn’t worry his eyes will remain in better conditions. As Kathy tells her “listen to your heart” her own heartbeat is the inspiration sound she needs to evade the fact that she’s being hanged. By having Gene Selma thinks she condemned him to blindness. Their relationship is forced to wait because her main objective takes over everything else. She puts so much pressure on herself. That surgery will release him from blindness.
Selma doesn’t look mad. “I've seen it all. she kindly asks for it. they both help Selma in everyway they can (Selma live in a trailer in their backyard. Actual darkness will be represented by overexposure images. with the fact that he’s a wealthy policeman. The last shot will be completely overexposed into the windows. so everything is on his side. The box from the bank becomes a symbol in the scene.think that Selma is the thief. Selma is vulnerable. She just wants her money back because he can’t save more. This scene is the main turning point of the movie. the give presents to them…). Laura The relationship between Bill and Selma is a good friend ship. although she is going to pay a high prize for her actions. He doesn’t have courage. she’s been snatched from the instrument she needs to save his son. With her money Bill’s problems would be solved so he decides to steal Selma’s money for Gene’s operation (which is actually kept in a candy box that Linda gave Selma). is been accomplished. having her money back. Bill and Linda like their lifestyle and they like people to notice how wealthy and good they are. innocent and kind. Her objective. to want more would be greed. Nevertheless. A moment she’s been waiting for all her life -complete blindness. Selma has already gone blind. She’s forced to kill him. The scene takes place during daytime in an interior room. as she’s going blind already denies her help to Bill./ I've seen what I was and I know what I'll be / I've seen it all . Selma. In the whole scene can be read in two ways: Bill is scheming everything to make Linda –or anybody else. He also gets the goal of dying. he’s not brave enough to do that either so he manipulates Selma to get that goal. It’s the item she will have to use to kill Bill. It’s a tragic resolution scene where both actors win and lose. It will be similar to the cinematography on Fernando Meirelles movie “Blindness”. At the same time she’s been robbed. She’s not so concerned about being blind but about the consequences: she has run out of time to save more money for Gene’s operation. All this makes him feel miserable. They like being noticed. As she can’t see she had to turn down her role in “The Sound of Music”. He prefers to kill himself rather than to live a life he doesn’t want. in addition to that. Her blindness has made her being fired from her job. This trust he puts on her makes her tell Bill about her own secret. is the last person he wants to hurt. The cinematography in the beginning will be soft – diffused light. they taking care of Gene. I've seen the dark / I've seen the brightness in one little spark. As Selma so kind Bill trusts her enough to tell her his secret. She’s slowly going into a darkness. Bill sees Selma as an easy exit to his problems so she ask Selma to give him money for a month. / I've seen what I chose and I've seen what I need / And that is enough. As the operation is the most important matter for her she will do whatever needs to be done to get that. Selma feels sorry for him as much as he does for her and that’s the way the come up with to comfort each other. As Bill couldn’t get his main objective he manipulated Selma to get his “back up” plane done. sunlight that will be coming through the windows.there is no more to see!” 5 .FERNÁNDEZ IZUZQUIZA. As the scene goes on it will be progressively changing into high key exposure. Selma is the protagonist and the scene will be told from her point of view. In the scene Selma is the one that gets what she needs. literal and metaphorically. This scene is the starting point of everything that’s going to happen afterwards. However.is just about to happen. However. is easy to take advantage of her and his needs are more important for him than that. As the scene will be shot only with 2 characters this will be shown in a different way. Through dialogue and.
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