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Lars Von Trier Europe Trilogy Box Set [DVD] [1992]

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Language: English, German
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CR1DJS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,310 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is easily one of the most striking and memorable films I have ever seen. It draws the viewer in immediately and tells a well-paced, rewarding and dark tale of a cruel and tragic time in Europe's recent history, from an unusual perspective. In 1992 as I watched it unfold in the cinema I was convinced it was the best film I had seen in perhaps ten years...and the final scene left me literally speechless and rather disturbed during the 30-minute drive home with my partner afterwards. This is not easy to do.
"Europa" (renamed "Zentropa" for its non-European cinema release) is a stunning conclusion to eccentric Dane Lars von Trier's so-called "Europa Trilogy", begun with "The Element of Crime" in 1984 and continued with "Epidemic" in 1988. Why Tartan Video have chosen to release only two of these three films at this point on DVD seems somewhat of a mystery.
Filmed in Denmark and Poland, with German, French, American and Danish actors (and a Swedish narrator!), in the English language with occasional passages of German, this is truly a multi-national effort.
von Trier presents us with a dark, wet, dreary, frequently-sinister and mainly-monochrome world in which there are few happy endings, brutally realistic vignettes of human nature and no easy solutions. The end of WWII has left Germany a broken, violent, mean, amoral and mercenary place, its remaining people deeply brutalised, its society and industry almost totally destroyed by the invading and retaliating Allied forces. The American occupying force is reorganising ex-Nazi Germany's industries and economy and offers the only stability of law, and it is clear that Compromise is the order of the day if Germany is to find its feet as a nation again.
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Format: DVD
Is it a hypnotically induced psychological nightmare or a descent into the reality of a Nazi regime? Lars Von Trier's award winning exposition into post-war Germany takes you on a subconscious journey through the eyes of Leopold Kessler, brilliantly played by Jean-Mark Barr. Von Trier lures you into this post war psychodrama via a train journey on the Zentropa railway complex, which exposes the climate of guilt and anti-American feeling of post-war Germany.
Set in 1945, Leopold Kessler(Jean-Mark Barr) is an American with German heritage, who goes back to Germany to help with the restoration of the country. His pacifist ideals however, are soon challenged upon the realisation that he is being used as a pawn by the Werwolf Nazi organisation. His love interest, seductively played by Barbara Sukowa (The Third Miracle, Johnny Mnemonic), is Katarina, the Nazi sympathising daughter of Max Hartmann the railway owner, played by Jorgen Reenberg.
The story is partly narrated by Max Von Sydow, in the form of hypnotic suggestions that add to the surreal quality of the film. The hypnotic theme runs congruently with the desire of the railway owner to repress the memory of the war-time function of the trains which was to carry Jewish prisoners to concentration camps. This is portrayed in a scene brilliantly handled by the masterful Von Trier, where Kessler walks through the train and time into hidden carriages containing concentration camp prisoners and the inescapable truth of the past. This post war repression is further signified by the constant pulling down of the shutters on the train, in an attempt to block out the reality of post-war Germany and the repercussions of the war.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This fine film is, to some tastes, a bit "tricksy" and far too self-knowing. However this movie was made before Trier became an exponant of the Dogme95 philosophy towards film-making (watch films like Festen, The Idiots, etc if you want to know more about this anti-hollywood style of movie making).
However, Europa is a damn good thriller as well as being clever. Parts of the film will keep you at the edge of your seat, Trier really is a true craftsman in film art. Europa also has a very (deliberate) hynotic and dream-like quality.
Without giving away any "spoilers" - the ending is fabulous. It really is about the darkness that is Europe and is aptly set in Germany just after WW2, where Nazi terrorists still lurk in the shadows and occupying forces ruthlessly hunt down any sympathisers. Unfortunately for the main protagonist (played by Jean Marc Barr) sitting on the fence is likely to get you killed...
I can't recommend this film highly enough. It is a shame Trier is unlikely to ever make a film like this again. Much as I like his Dogme95 films (especially Dancer in The Dark and Breaking the Waves) - I feel that this was a style of film-making that could have been continued and developed by Mr Trier...
Buy it now... especially if you want an intellegent thriller and are sick of CGI laden hollywood movies...
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Format: DVD
Ultimate part of his European Trilogy, "Europa" is quite a work of art to look at. Indeed, with German expressionism, Nazi Aesthetic, Film Noir, and Hitchcockian references all melded together, "Europa" is the story of Leopold Kessler, an American who comes in Germany to work on the train Zentropa where his uncle works as Sleeping car Conductor. Hoping to help the fallen Germany while staying in a Neutral political position over the reality he lives in. An opinion that harms him for the worse as he encounters the path of the Hartmann family. Family whose name is in reference to Lars's biological father, Fritz Michael Hartmann. A man who never recognized Lars as his biological father and never had any influences in Lars's life and tastes. A man Lars uncovered the secret truth only when his mother Bente Host told him the existence on her deathbed that this man was his real father. Therefore, making a movie one of the first works where Lars dives in part of himself into his work, which he didn't do in Element of Crime or in Epidemic.
But also, this movie is a tragedy which condemns the taboos of World War II and its post-War period. The culture of silence, of lies, of collaboration, of despair, and of germanophobia that still plague Europe today. Whether from the Germans or the Americans. A movie whose opinion is that in the upcoming future of Europe, World War II will leave a deep scar over the world.

Also, it is a movie of visual and musical references that made Europa one of the most well-received among film critics. Which is understandable as many cinema references populate this film what unfortunately, lacks emotionality and human connection with the characters and with the audience.
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