Monday, July 17, 2006

Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier (Bjorkman, 1997)

Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier, included as a bonus feature on the Criterion DVD for The Element of Crime, captures the Danish director at a critical juncture in his artistic progression. The film, made by Stig Bjorkman, lays out a quick picture of Trier's strange upbringing and allows him to describe how his parents raised him almost entirely devoid of authoritarian guidance. We see some of Trier's first films, made as a child, and note how they already include such features as experimentation with film stock, grim imagery and a long tracking shot shot from a bicycle. We then see how the technological heaviness of The Element of Crime and Europa has started to give way to the lighter touch of Breaking the Waves. Despite the film's inimate feel, we may be surprised to see just how large the crew for Breaking the Waves is. In one comical moment, the crew is reassured that 'not knowing what they are doing' is a part of the grand design. There is no mention of Dogme, but Tranceformer allows us to make palpable connections between a man who grew up with no limits and then decided to impose them on himself in order to generate compelling art.



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