Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dogville: Grace as a test?

My wife and I saw Lars von Trier's Dogville recently. Our opinions of the controversial Danish director had been diametrically opposed. I loved both Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves. Jess had heard their plots and refused to see them because they sounded awful. So convincing her to watch Dogville was a bit of a coup, helped by a friendly neighbour who dropped in the DVD without our requesting it and my pointing out that it would be rude to return it unwatched.

We loved it. The minimalist set creatively captured the panopticon experience of small town life. The acting was strong. But the most interesting thing was that Dogville is a very insightful picture of what so many people (including more Christians than we might realise) think the Christian message says. Without mentioning God (the town has no church and the mission house perpetually lacks a preacher), the film is deeply theological. Life is a test: will we accept Grace into our lives freely and discover a gift we didn't seek and didn't deserve? Or will we try to pay for Grace, or worse, constrain and even coerce Grace? And if we fail the test, then comes merciless judgement... but I don't want to give away the ending.

Highly recommended. Distressing scenes, but then you already knew that because it's Lars von Trier.


Anthony Douglas said...

We watched it on DVD not long after it came out. Not relaxing, but you're right, an excellent cast and a worthwhile way to spend an evening. Kidman was again excellent.

Thanks for the reminder!

(captcha: prime - quite true)

Roland and Laura said...

And does holding ourselves to high moral standards while refusing to judge others make us arrogant pricks?

Awesome, unsettling movie.

psychodougie said...

like all LVT films, it lulls you in, yet disturbs you at the same time.

it did make me keep thinking about what i would've done - i should say, the film told me what i would've done.

reminds me of 'how deep' - ashamed i hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers

so are dancer in the dark and breaking the waves queued up?

byron smith said...

so are dancer in the dark and breaking the waves queued up?
As reviews or as family DVD viewing? Neither, I'm afraid. I saw them too long ago to attempt reviews and while I might have a little more luck suggesting LvT in future, it's probably time for the next DVD to be something a little shorter and happier - maybe an eco-documentary about how we're all going to die...