Preview by: Jack Foley
DOGVILLE, the latest slice of Dogma filmmaking from former Palme
d'Or winner, Lars von Trier, was one of the undisputed highlights
of this year's otherwise disappointing Cannes Film Festival.
Hotly-tipped to win the director a second Palme d'Or, it was
surprisingly beaten to the accolade by Gus Van Sant's equally
Dogville, however, stars Nicole Kidman, as the beautiful fugitive,
Grace, who arrives in the isolated township of Dogville on the
run from a team of gangsters.
With some encouragement from Tom, the self-appointed town spokesman,
the little community agrees to hide her and in return, Grace agrees
to work for them.
However, when a search sets in, the people of Dogville demand
a better deal in exchange for the risk of harbouring poor Grace,
and she learns the hard way that in this town, goodness is relative.
But Grace has a secret and it is a dangerous one. Dogville may
regret it ever began to bare its teeth...
Denmark-born von Trier formerly won the Palme d'Or for his Bjork
collaboration, Dancer in the Dark, and this three-hour long opus
is a similarly challenging movie.
Produced by Zentropa, von Trier's production company, it heralds
the first of a new trilogy, entitled US and A, a series of films
which take place in America. It co-stars Stellan Skarsgård,
the late Katrin Cartlidge, Paul Bettany, and Lauren Bacall.
Shot entirely in a studio with few props, (streets chalked on
the studio floor and actors miming the opening and closing of
doors), Von Trier's marks yet another approach to filmmaking by
"You could say I'm experimenting with a new dogma formula,"
he told journalists at Cannes. "The idea was to concentrate
solely on the characters, therefore it was logical to have this
bare stage with theatrical backdrops."
Kidman admits she was unsure about whether the film would work
but opted to jump on board because she had been a long-time admirer
of von Trier's work.
She told a press conference: "I felt that it was either
going to work or it wasn't going to work. It was like saying:
'Ok, I'm willing to take this journey with you because I admire
you and I believe in your belief.'
"And, Lars had a very strong belief in the film working
as a whole, without sets, without props. (...) But, I think that
once you make that leap of faith, then, you're into it and you
emotionally commit to it. And, you have to trust the director.
"The first week of filming was tricky; I rehearsed a week.
It was two people getting to know each other, and I think Lars
had preconceptions about me and I probably did about him.
"And, then, we went off walking in the forest and had a
heart-to-heart one afternoon. We came out of it with the same,
very pure commitment to each other, which is what I think you
can offer as an actor to a director who you believe in.
"I am very committed to him and to his work, and (...) being
part of his creative life."