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The Idiots [1999] [DVD]

3.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Bodil Jørgensen, Jens Albinus, Anne Louise Hassing, Troels Lyby, Nikolaj Lie Kaas
  • Directors: Lars von Trier
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Danish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Sept. 2000
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004Y3OQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,402 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

The second of the controversial Dogma 95 films. Set in present-day Denmark, it begins with a chance encounter between the timid Karen and a group of drop-outs engaged in a strange, informal experiment where they pretend to be mentally disabled. Initially shocked, Karen finds herself compelled to stay and eventually joins them in the experiment. However, as the group's acts of 'idiocy' grow more extreme, and the reality of the outside world becomes more intrusive, the border between liberation and self-destruction begins to blur.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Never one to shy from a bit of controversy, Danish director Lars Von Trier caused a storm in 1998 with The Idiots. Since then, he has started making American movies that seem almost misogynistic in it's attitudes to women. His films put their female protagonist through horrifying and gruelling psychological and physical abuse. But the controversy stirred up by The Idiots wasn't because of its portrayal of women, but its apparently sadistic mockery of the mentally disabled.

The film follows a bunch of young men and women, living together in a large house owned by the uncle of Stoffer (Jens Albinus), who spend their time pretending to be mentally ill and finding their 'inner idiot'. They pick up an apparently lost woman Karen (Bodil Jorgensen) at a restaurant and she joins them, equally fascinated and repulsed by their acts. As Karen searches for her inner idiot, the group continue to 'spas' (Danish equivalent of 'spaz') at various locations, seemingly for their own amusement. Stoffer is meant to be selling the house for his uncle, but since the group has settled their, he uses the group as a means to scare away any potential buyers. However, tensions start to develop in the group, mainly due to the increasingly aggressive and unpredictable behaviour of the unstable Stoffer.

It's difficult to work out who exactly Von Trier is poking fun at. It could be the group themselves, who claim to be anti-bourgeois and anti-middle class, yet seem to only use this claim when it frees them from responsibility. A member of the group, who has run away from his wife and his child, thinks about returning, only to describe the thought of pushing his child around in a pram as 'so middle class'. Or the film could be making fun of society's attitudes to the mentally disabled.
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Format: DVD
It is a shame that more publicity has been made about the Dogma 95 experiment than about the products they rendered. So try looking beyond the Dogma stamp. The Idiots is an amazing film built upon a complex story and reveals elements of the human condition rarely revealed on the big screen. Von Trier is an expert at creating shocking cinema. Not only is it shocking because it is filmed differently than almost any other film you've seen, but it is also shocking because it is filled with nudity, vulgarity and controversial themes. It makes fun of mentally retarded adults under the guise of a serious social experiment. It has violent fights, an orgy scene... Despite all this, try looking beyond the shocking elements. What you will find beyond all the things that many critics chose not to look past is an emotionally powerful portrayal of a group of individuals searching for a way in which to view their identity in a way that is devoid of all social artifices. It is a story of a people trying to actively live out an idea that there is something essential about their being which can be reached through an extreme modification of their behaviour. It becomes increasingly clear throughout the narrative that these people are running away from who they are rather than finding something essential. The emotional tension that is being withheld slowly rises to the surface and culminates in one of the most devastating scenes I've ever witnessed. It is moving not just because it deals with death, but because it illuminates in an exaggerated fashion the way in which people in society today hide from themselves and subsequently reveal themselves to be frail and insecure. Of course, all of the elements that go into making this such a shocking film are inextricably incorporated into the emotional power created. You need to watch this film while withholding moral judgements and consider the issues that are being so skilfully portrayed in a way no other director was able to do before Dogma 95.
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Format: DVD
It's easy to confuse the adjectives "controversial" and "thought-provoking". The difference is that the former is a concept manufactured by the media and the latter is the raison d'etre of film-makers like Lars von Trier. Ostensibly this is a film about a group of people pretending to have cerebral palsy. But obviously that's not what it's really about; and I think that only those without the inclination to seek one of many possible meanings would label it "controversial" on this basis. It's classic knee-jerk.

The Idiots is a challenging indictment of middle-class hypocrisies and an enthralling deconstruction of the bohemian ideal.

Early in the film the question keeps being asked: Why is what we're doing wrong? "Because you're poking fun." But who really comes out of the narrative looking idiotic? The stuttering patio-owner, fearful of a potential insurance claim? Josephine's father, who tears his weeping daughter away from her friends? Rarely it's The Idiots themselves, whose motivations are subtly sketched out as Stoffer's commune collapses around him.

Stoffer himself is "anti-middle-class", suggesting he's simply afraid of growing up. There's the doctor, constantly writing notes, who may be treating the whole affair as some kind of social experiment. There's the marketing man, using the commune as an escape from the superficiality of his truly idiotic occupation. And there's Karen, our silent observer, whose own reasons for falling in love with The Idiots comes to flatten us in the final reel. This leads to a gripe: certain characters remain nothing MORE than sketches. I would have liked to see von Trier eschew some of the social confrontation scenes in favour of further narrative episodes.
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