27 April 2002 | ekkir
It takes a Dane
As a Dane it may be easier to see where Lars Von Trier is coming from with this social criticism (satire of social criticism!) movie.
First of all he comes from a country that prides itself in two traditions:
1. a state that takes care of and cares for everyone
2. a country that has a long tradition of social-criticism in literature and movies
For more than ten years it seemed that every big film project in Denmark had a social agenda...That was probably the only way to get financial support for your film project - which was most of the time, if not all of the time - supplied by the state.
This film is poking fun - primarily - at this social criticism tradition, while it also renews it.
But how much should we take seriously - Lars Von Trier would probably laugh at anyone, who takes this movie at face value - as a bona fide social criticism (which it is not!) and - of course - it fails as traditional "social criticism", just look at it - this is not a film like Pelle the Conquerer, there are no drunken, heavy-set men seducing their underage nieces and abusing the working man sadistically.
In short this movie wasn't meant to succeed in the genre in a traditional sense.
It has a more profound agenda - I have a hard time putting words to it, because what the movie says is so very Danish. Certain scenes are simply great: When they visit the factory and "the idiots" are allowed to turn the machines on and off...I can't explain why that is so intensely funny, but I'm pretty sure it's a Danish thing.
This film is funny, sad, sentimental, wonderfully-acted... It comments on a social-democratic tradition and state that embraces you for better and for worse...It also talks about capitalism in this system...Maybe it's really all about the compromise inherent in a social-democratic tradition existing parallel with a capitalist system. Such a compromise could be viewed as hypocrisy from a philosophical standpoint.
Central to this movie is the theme of honesty and sincerity...And all the while you don't want to take it too seriously, because you have a feeling that the director isn't all that serious about it himself...
In short I find the movie and it's intention irresistibly confusing.