Dogville (2003)

It is a parable.
Dogville could be anywhere.
And we are its inhabitants - flawed, cowardly, weak and hungry.

After the first 10 minutes I got used to it…the unsparing look and feel… Lars does show us at the end a real dog instead of the drawing…showing us that he could have made it the usual way but chose not to.

A big risk that I am sure hurt the box office.

The film illustrates these verses:

Matthew 7:6
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

  • Just by being herself, she shows up the townspeople. From Tom, with the hollow good intentions, to his hypochondriac father, to rapist 1 the orchard picker and so on…they kept feeding on her.

Matthew 7:1-2
Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

  • The great last act. Grace judges the town for their actions. (The conversation with her and her father is very interesting.
    Neither of them saw the inhabitants of Dogville as humans on their level. The final question was simply what to do with the dogs?

Von Trier approved a shorter version, 45 minutes shorter, made by his assistant director for the Italian market. I don’t like long movies…they rarely ever need that much time…but this one came very close.
I would have shortened Act 8 but that is it.

Of course, this was very hard to watch.
Notable scenes:

  • The first rape…the deliberate zooming out of the camera with the non-existent walls…everybody knew but pretended as if they didn’t.
    That wouldn’t work with a regular set.

    (The moment that boundary was crossed…it was over for Grace).

  • Eating the apples with the wagon covering becoming translucent with Tom’s betrayal.
    Tom is our Judas…the everyman of high ideals he can scarcely articulate since he doesn’t live by them to give his words power.

  • Grace ending Tom…not speaking about love then but symbols and figures. He could have had her and protected her when she offered her love and herself to him but he didn’t dare. After all, what would the town think?

Every person Grace interacts with shows a different dark side of our natures: the blind man who can’t bear to admit it.
The vegetating hypochondriac of a doctor , the spiteful gossip girls, Vera and her spoiled brood of seven, the orchard man who starts the rapes…

The director is a genius. It is excellent.
Unfortunately, this world, our world is Dogville and we are its inhabiatants.
The challenge is to rise above.

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good analysis.

it’s been a year since i saw it so i don’t remember all the details but want to make a few comments.

1 - the “orchard man” ( Stellan Skarsgard ) appears in many of Von Trier movies … so logically his character has special importance of some sort.

2 - in “Apocalypse Now” at the very end after Sheen kills Brando he finds a note saying “Kill Them All” … meaning Brando wanted him to order the Air Strike … but Sheen doesn’t do it …

by the end of Dogville, Grace / Kidman essentially becomes the Kurtz / Brando of “Apocalypse Now” … except she actually goes through with the “kill them all” part …

of course the reason i wanted you to see it is you keep asking why i don’t think the people are worth saving … and although neither “Dogville” nor “Apocalypse Now” on their own necessarily answer this question they should help the viewer move along in the direction of the answer.

Dogville in a sense is a case study in Stockholm Syndrome, which is related to the Battered Wife syndrome as well as to “parenting” which are all cases in which the victim of abuse feels powerless and starts making excuses for the abuser consciously or subconsciously …

as Robert Greene writes children can’t face the fact that their parents are evil abusers because there is nothing they can do to escape this abuse so the only thing they can do is go into denial about it …

when kids become teenagers suddenly they begin to clash with their parents which their parents blame on “hormones” … when in fact it’s just kids shedding the repression they used to cope with the abuse when they felt powerless … as they no longer feel powerless as teenagers all the resentment begins to bubble up to the surface …

this also happened to Grace … with a twist that in her case her powerlessness was self imposed … her pride would not let her ask her daddy for help but when he came for her himself and she was no longer powerless she was able to release everything she was suppressing …

Robert Greene has a chapter about this as well, called “know who you’re dealing with - do not offend the wrong person” …

in both Dogville and “Apocalypse Now” an imbalance of power leads to dehumanization … with the abusers still clinging on to moral cover in whatever form they can find, laughable as it is …

there is no way to rationalize rape or the use of napalm and yet that doesn’t stop anybody from trying …

a memorable part of the movie for me is when the Orchard Man’s wife blames Grace for getting raped and calls her husband a good man … basically those who have power aren’t bound by the need for their morality to make any sense …

whereas “Apocalypse Now” is about dehumanization and abuse of power as well as slide into insanity and even the use of psychedelic drugs “Dogville” is just about dehumanization and abuse of power …

morality is ultimately a vague set of rules that define power relationships … a fragile illusion that depends on the balance of power … when this balance is disturbed morality starts to crack … both movies show how this can get awkward when the power is unbalanced yet not absolute which causes people to act in ways that are immoral while simultaneously trying to rationalize and justify their behavior …

Dogville is basically Apocalypse Now but with a more satisfying ending LOL

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Very interesting…didn’t see that at all.

a memorable part of the movie for me is when the Orchard Man’s wife blames Grace for getting raped and calls her husband a good man … basically those who have power aren’t bound by the need for their morality to make any sense …

Well Orchard Man’s wife blames Grace since Grace shows her up: she is no longer desirable by her husband. Grace is hot; she is not.

The same thing happens with Liz; Tom and Orchard man pursue her but Grace is hotter so she grows to hate Grace.

Tom = Republican party (Judas)
Grace = battered voters
Dogville = Democrats
Mob = no real world equivalent?

Tom - politicians
Grace - taxpayers
Dogville - Jews


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Nice…nice. Who is the mob?


They are dead…

this is a parallel reality in which Hitler wins …

Better bring them from that parallel universe.
Getting late…

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all right i’m watching " Breaking the Waves "


Dogville vs. Apocalypse Now

Dogville has the better ending since the demarcation between right and wrong is sharper.

In Apocalypse Now, the Vietnamese are a stand-in for the Other in any war…they are the backdrop for the USGov and Kurtz’s ambitions.
Every one sinks in a grey morass of mixed motivations, of shaken and shaking morality.

In Dogville, we know who is right and who is wrong.
In Apocalypse Now, we see Tom (Sheen’s character) as the protagonist, and no clear moral compass from anyone…just wills and power clashing.

Its a war movie - pro-war, in that you can rape, kill etc. to your heart’s delight, and anti-war, in that without limits, you become Kurtz or the USGov. The refusal to bomb the village is the moral stance of the film.

you and your clinging to morality LOL

there is no such thing as right and wrong

the reason Sheen doesn’t bomb the village is because he would have to answer for it. he did not choose his mission - it was given to him. if he goes back to US he will answer to the US military. if he stays with the French woman a few miles down the river he will have to answer to the locals. he is losing his mind, he doesn’t believe in the war, but he is still a professional - he doesn’t judge Kurtz - he simply completes his mission.

the reason Grace exterminates Dogville is because she can do so without consequences. furthermore she isn’t a professional executing a mission given to her - she is writing her own mission. she isn’t Sheen she is Kurtz. originally her mission is to prove her father wrong, but that mission fails. if you can’t beat them - join them. she realizes her mistake and rather than continuing to defy her father essentially offers to succeed him by becoming even colder and more ruthless than he is.

Nietzshe said “when fighting monsters be careful not to become a monster” … well that’s fantasy … in reality when fighting monsters we either die, become slaves or become monsters. there is no option in which we win and don’t become monsters. this is what clowns on GAB do not understand or rather pretend not to understand. power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. anybody who says otherwise is simply virtue signaling and dog whistling.

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everybody is just trying to survive, have a good time and hold on to as much of their humanity as possible while hoping to return home some day and be able to go on with their lives.

Sheen knows this isn’t happening. he knows he already lost too much of his humanity to go back. Kurtz knows this as well.

The difference between Sheen and Kurtz is that Sheen still has options - he hasn’t made enemies. Kurtz only has two options - stay in hell or die. He chooses death.

Grace is essentially an angel

The name Grace is of Latin origin and refers to the phrase, “the grace of God.” Grace is one of the most popular virtue names.

at the end Grace of God turns into Wrath of God

Tom is the audience. He is us. He wants to be and imagines himself to be intelligent and good and thinks he will leave some lasting positive mark ( write a book ) … but he is actually stupid, pathetic, spineless, weak, cowardly and traitorous.

Sheen … is not really a protagonist …

Sheen and the River are one and the same … together they descend into madness / hell a.k.a. “the heart of darkness” ( name of the book on which Apocalypse Now is based )

at the start of Apocalypse Now Sheen is already too far gone to represent us as members of the audience … he simply leads the camera up the river …

Apocalypse now is philosophical musings on various subjects such as sanity, power, morality, death, war and so on … it doesn’t offer any answers, which i respect.

i don’t think it’s the moral stance of the film. i think it’s what you want to see as the moral stance of the film. when my mother sees any movie with even slightly ambiguous ending she always gives her own explanation and it’s always a happy one. even when it is clear that protagonist will die ( but it isn’t shown ) she explains that protagonist will not die for example.

in case of “Apocalypse Now” the village isn’t bombed … but it’s not because Sheen is opposed to it.

Sheen is not the protagonist - he is the cinematographer. He takes us up the river to show us its horrors. He doesn’t get involved. It’s not his business. He is dissociated from it, like the Surfer dude tripping on LSD.

Dogville is different in that it DOES give us an answer. It doesn’t merely observe - it JUDGES.

it sentences humanity to extinction.

i previously joked that people of Dogville are Jews and Mafia guys are the NAZIs … well, it could be one interpretation anyway …

but actually people of Dogville are the common man and Mafia guys are the elites …

in this sense Dogville is also Snowpiercer where Grace is Curtis and her father is Wilford … and instead of periodically culling the herd as in Snowpiercer the entire herd is offed …

what these movies have in common is they don’t automatically assume in a knee jerk fashion that the job of the hero is to save the common man or even women and children from the brutal dictator …

these aren’t children’s movies where good and evil are black and white.

these three films to various extents dabble in something called REALITY as opposed to being the fairy tales that 99% of Hollywood output is.

that’s what makes them similar. it’s not that they we can directly map characters or plot from one to another it’s that they fundamentally deal with reality. as opposed to the delusion / fantasy that life is a precious gift of infinite value, all men are created equal with god given right to freedom and happiness blah blah blah …

movies like Batman, Spiderman blah blah blah are all created to help children hide from reality.

movies like Dogville and Apocalypse Now are created to force adults to face reality.

well, that’s my personal perspective anyway.

I haven’t watched it in years. And indeed, I felt compelled to give the film a moral compass. But you’re right…Willard is the tour guide into madness…I’m trying to remember if there was any “sane” character in the film.

I suppose the lesson is power corrupts.

Nietzche said “when fighting monsters be careful not to become a monster” … well that’s fantasy … in reality when fighting monsters we either die, become slaves or become monsters. there is no option in which we win and don’t become monsters.

There is an anime called Attack on Titan, based on a manga of the same name, which does exactly this.
The protagonist wins by becoming the biggest monster of them all.

Antichrist next …

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quick warning - it is unusually graphic in the sex scenes …

Von Trier likes to have dicks in his movies …

Why??? Naked women…not dicks!!

everyone has naked women.

Von Trier is not satisfied with being like everybody else.

he must have dicks !

i respect it in a way because nobody wants to see dicks in a movie so he’s showing what nobody wants to see, which is sort of the point of his movies …