Nicole Kidman as Grace in the legendary film.
Dogville: a small town in the state of Colorado, USA There he chooses to place his first film (still incomplete) “American” of the trilogy heretic and controversial Lars von Trier. Of course the legendary setting of Dogville is just a carefully and simply decorated studio somewhere in Scandinavia. With this aesthetic discovery to dominate, Trier launches in 2003 the cinematic attempt of introspection and analysis of American society. How, however, a creator who had never visited the US (because of his fear of airplanes) manages to deliver such a cruel, intelligent and allegorical film thesis on a social, ideological and political system that has not Have You Ever Experience? This question seeks to answer this text.
Dogville at a Glance …
We are in the 30s of America, the so-called “Big Depression”. In the rhythms of that time the lives of the inhabitants of the small town of Dogville seem to run smoothly. Until the unexpected arrival of a persecuted girl, Grace (the outstanding Nicole Kidman), overturns the harmonious daily routine of the residents. Faced with the community’s dilemma about whether to host Grace or not, ambitious and ideological writer Thomas Edisson will propose to residents to protect the young fugitive by considering the hospitality venture as a moral bet for the small town. Grace will eventually be accepted by the Dogville residents accepting to work for them. While at first the city will embrace the young lady, the clouds will not cease to thicken with the inhabitants of Dogville to show their true face …
The decomposition of American society
The focal point of “Dogville” is the analysis of the mechanisms of reaction of the community to the “foreign” factor. Not the reaction of any community, but the reaction of American society. A society, which ostensibly prefers its moral values and its high ideals, but is deep, corrupt and perverse in the depths.
At first we see Dogville’s residents grabbed the persecuted Grace. Then, when she performs her full duties in front of her, they will embrace her more warmly. When, however, her presence begins to upset the harmony of their animals, Dogville will show his true face. Grace will become a victim of exploitation and systematic sexual harassment. As a scapegoat, the young lady will see every bond with the city dissolve (the brilliant symbolism with the 7 dolls), any relationship that she considered to be true and any prospect of improving her life to fade. Her last retreat is her deep faith in the power of man. But what if this last hopeful shelter ceases to exist?
Dogville shows his true face. Divine Grace or Divine Revenge?
Since Trier has mastered a thrilling bunch of developments and reversals, having made spectators involved in Grace’s drama, it ends up in a dilemma in which both the heroine and the public themselves are called upon to respond. What is the fate that deserves the inhabitants of this city? The final punishment through their extinction or a second chance.
The decision is not easy. For both Grace and our viewers the feelings that dominate are deep disappointment and futility. But Grace has to choose. And somewhere here one can distinguish in “Dogville” bold elements of religious parable. Grace (Hellenic “Haris”) invades the lives of everyday people of Dogville as a godly presence. He endures, tolerates, hopes and believes in the people of the city. But because of their greed, fear and immediacy, Dogville’s inhabitants despise and cheer on it. As in the Bible the protoplasts cut off the forbidden fruit and then experienced the divine rage persecuted by Paradise.
Based on the biblical narrative, Trier channel the tension of the film into this dilemma in almost unbearable fashion. Grace’s moral ambivalence, but also the public, but especially the final decision of the heroine and its implementation, are cinematically a creepy and shocking epitome in a punch movie in the petty bourgeois moral norms.
The pioneering stage structure of the film. From “Doctrine 95” to Brecht …
One of the many bets that Trier has won and won after abandoning the “doctrine of 95” was to create films completely different to one another. Whether it’s aesthetics, scenery, script structure, or the overall atmosphere of the film.
Starting in 2003, the “American trilogy,” Trier chose to place the action of his films in a purely theatrical setting, totally simple and discreetly enlightened. This “striking” scenery and aesthetic perception acts decisively in shaping a cruel and often choked atmosphere for the viewer. Moreover, behind the choice of separating Dogville’s homes with chalk-engraved lines, there is a bitter irony surrounding what is visible and what is not, thus stigmatizing the hypocrisy of the community.
The same aesthetic choice followed Trier in the second film of the trilogy (the interesting but predictable “Menderlay”). So far, the trilogy remains incomplete with the creator saying “unprepared” to complete this cinematic cycle.
Finally, it is worth noting that the film was first screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. Its duration is 178 minutes. However, a smaller version of 130 minutes was released in the halls. A few years later Trier released the director’s cut with all the scenes.