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In this epic story of love and treason, Max Von Sydow gives a career-crowning performance as Knut Hamsun, Norway's controversial Nobel Laureate, who stunned the world by becoming the only major European artist to side with the Nazis in WWII. Max Von Sydow brilliantly captures the loneliness and confusion of the last seventeen years of Hamsun's life, as he faces the consequences of his outspoken support of Nazi politics in Norway.
Knut Hamsun, a staunchly anti-British nationalist, was his country's most beloved writer, best known for his modernist books Hunger (1890) and Growth of the Soul (1917), which gave Norway's literature worldwide stature. But with the shadow of Nazism quickly darkening Europe, Knut Hamsun and his wife Marie embrace Hitler-- who sees Hamsun's support as the surest way to win over the Norwegian people.
Hamsun never learns German so his speeches are interpreted-or mis-interpreted by others, including his frustrated, former actress/author wife Marie--played brilliantly by Ghita Nørby (Babette's Feast, Sophie, The Kingdom). Before long Hamsun and Marie are engulfed not only in Hitler's war, but also in their own turbulent relationship, and the angry wrath of a betrayed nation. After the war, instead of being jailed for treason, Hamsun is ordered to undergo months of intense psychiatric evaluations and a court trial that almost ends both his relationship with Marie and his life.
Director Jan Troell's biography of Norwegian, Nobel Prize-winning author, Knut Hamsun (Max von Sydow), is as much about Norway's experiences with Hitler as it is about Hamsun's personal life. Opening with a scene that establishes Hamsun's torrent relationship with his wife, Marie (Ghita Nørby), the film examines the couple's gradual conversion to Nazism, as Germany occupies Norway during World War II. Persuaded by a Nazi embassador sent to Oslo, Vidkun Quisling (Sverre Anker), both Marie and Knut become spokespeople for the Nazi Party, justifying their politics by the German promise of a strong, independent post-war Norway. As the Hamsuns discover the hushed horrors around them, their own personal relationship falls away, forcing them to reflect on their lives, their dysfunctional children, and their mistakes. Known as a traitor in Norway, Knut Hamsun, in this film, is portrayed as a true Norwegian patriot, proving, through Hamsun's own words, that his misdirected desire to aid Hitler had nothing to do with anti-semitism. A sad beauty permeates Hamsun. Just as the author sentences himself, the viewer musters up enough sympathy for Hamsun to learn that, indeed, the personal is political. --Trinie Dalton
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|The Element of Crime (The Criterion Collection)
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Lars von Trier's stunning debut film is the story of Fisher, an exiled ex-cop who returns to his old beat to catch a serial killer with a taste for young girls. Influenced equally by Hitchcock and science fiction, von Trier (Zentropa, Breaking the Waves, The Idiots) boldly reinvents expressionist style for his own cinematic vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Shot in shades of sepia, with occasional, startling flashes of bright blue, The Element of Crime (Forbrydelsens Element) combines dark mystery and operatic sweep to yield a pure celluloid nightmare.
It may prove confounding to anyone expecting a more conventional narrative, but The Element of Crime--the debut feature of Danish visionary Lars von Trier--marks the arrival of an audaciously original talent; the film is deeply personal in its inspirations yet richly informed by a pure love of cinema. Approaching a hard-boiled detective plot from a hypnotically subconscious perspective (thus establishing the tone he would echo in his later films Epidemic and Europa), von Trier presents a murder case solved from the inside out. Which is to say, the plot unfolds as recollected under hypnosis by Fisher (Michael Elphick), the grizzled cop who investigates the case.
This framework is arguably beside the point; it's merely von Trier's way of entering a post-apocalyptic world of his own making, flooded and decaying, and filmed entirely in an amber-tinted tone punctuated only by blue police lights and sickly green fluorescents. By following principles of crime solving conceived by his mentor (played by British film veteran Esmond Knight), Fisher closes in on an awful revelation that spins The Element of Crime into another psychological dimension. Multilayered, deliberately paced, and atmospheric in the extreme (which less appreciative viewers may find intolerable), The Element of Crime elicits a dream state that is simultaneously oppressive and visually unforgettable, crammed with symbolic subtleties and cinematic references that can only be fully absorbed over multiple viewings. To say the least, this is a film that grows on you. --Jeff Shannon
|Doors - Soundstage Performances
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The Doors Soundstage Performances are a truly unique compilation of three completely different Doors performances at three distinct stages in their career. The concept of the "Soundstage Performances" laid the way to assemble all three appearances. The majority of the material has never been seen before. Not only is it rare but it is startlingly great. Providing commentary are all three remaining Doors: Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger. Even without an audience, the Doors mesmerize, playing for nothing but the cameras. Morrison still delivers electrifying performances, whether reciting poetry in Denmark proceeding "Love Me Two Times" or getting it on during "The Soft Parade" - Jim Morrison's charisma, beauty and brilliance shine during all.
1. The End
2. Alabama Song
3. Back Door Man
4. Texas Radio
5. Love Me Two Times
6. When the Music's Over
7. Unknown Soldier
8. Tell all the People
9. Back Door Man
10. Wishful Sinful
11. Build Me a Woman
12. The Soft Parade
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Ivan is an insanely optimistic preacher who takes in convicts to help around the remote, rural church he ministers to. His current charges are a psychotic Saudi immigrant addicted to robbing gas stations and an alcoholic tennis pro convicted of sexual assault. His newest "helper" is Adam, a vicious neo-Nazi anxiously biding his time before he can return to hell-raising. Asked to set a goal for his stay, Adam sarcastically answers that he'd like to bake a cake. Ivan cheerfully takes that statement at face value and puts him in charge of the parish's pride and joy: the only apple tree in the vicinity. Grasping the extent of Ivan's crazed, preternatural determination to look on the bright side of everything, Adam immediately decides to shake him out of his rose-colored stupor.
Official Selection - Sundance, Toronto, Seattle and San Francisco Film Festivals. In Danish with English subtitles.
|The Island on Bird Street
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Polish ghetto with his father and great-uncle, knows this too well. When Nazis come to his city and clear the town, Alex manages to escape with the help of his family, but is left with only his pet mouse "Snow". Finding refuge in an abandoned building on Bird Street, Alex seeks inspiration from his favorite book, Robinson Crusoe, while he, and Snow, await his father's return.
Based on a true story by the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing.
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It's Helge Klingenfeldt's much-anticipated sixtieth birthday party, but no one is ready for the bombshell about to be delivered by his oldest son, Christian - a dark family secret that contributed to his twin sister's recent suicide. Helge Klingenfeldt (Henning Moritzen) is a respected Danish patriarch whose country estate is the scene of a grand celebration. Friends and relatives have arrived. The staff has prepared the most succulent foods to be served with the finest wines. Even Helge's squabbling adult children seem to be on their best behavior: free-spirited Helene (Paprika Steen), hot-blooded Michael (Thomas Bo Larsen), and sensitive Christian (Ulrich Thomsen) whose birthday toast turns the genteel celebration into a surprise party from hell.
|Dancer in the Dark
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Dancer In The Dark (DVD)
Director Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves) delivers a provocative mix of drama and musical theater in this acclaimed movie that won 2000 Cannes Film Festival Best Picture and Best Actress honors (for lead actress Björk). Rural factory worker Selma (Björk) is a single mother losing her eyesight from a hereditary disease. To protect her 10-year-old son from the same fate, Selma saves money to get him an operation. At night, Selma escapes into a world where “nothing dreadful ever happens,” rehearsing a production of The Sound of Music with her best friend (Catherine Deneuve). But when a neighbor (David Morse) betrays her trust, Selma’s life unravels – and the lines between reality and fantasy blur. Peter Stormare and Joel Grey also star in this trailblazing concoction that will make you cry at the same time it makes your heart sing.]]>
Masterpiece or masquerade? Lars von Trier's digicam musical split the critics in two when it debuted at Cannes in 2000. There were those who saw it as a cynical shock-opera from a manipulative charlatan, others wept openly at its scenes of raw emotion and heart-rending intensity. There is, however, no in-between. Dancer in the Dark is that rarest of creatures, a film that dares to push viewers to the limits of their feelings.
In her first and most probably last screen performance (she has foresworn acting after her bruising on-set rows with von Trier), brittle Icelandic chanteuse Björk plays Selma, a Czech immigrant living in a folksy American small town with her young son, Gene. Selma is going blind and so will Gene if she does not arrange an important operation for him. To cover the expense, Selma works every hour she can, cheating on her eye tests so she can keep working at the local factory long after her vision has become too unreliable to work safely. She sublets a house from a local cop, Bill (David Morse), and his wife, Linda (Cara Seymour). When nearly bankrupt Bill asks Selma for a loan, she refuses, but he later returns and steals the money, which she demands back in a furious confrontation. In the ensuing melee, Bill is fatally shot and Selma is arrested and put on trial. Will justice prevail?
Von Trier's passionate, provocative film runs all our emotional resources dry with suspense, giving us occasional flashes into Selma's gold heart and mind with superb song-and-dance numbers she conjures to banish the nightmare (Björk also wrote the score). At some two-and-a-half hours, it's not for lightweights, but anyone bored with today's smug, "ironic" cinema will relish this as an astonishing assault on the senses and a stark reminder of von Trier's uncompromising talent. --Damon Wise
|A Day in October
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This compelling suspense drama follows the underground war-time evacuation of the Jews from Nazi-occupied Denmark to neutral Sweden. The Jewish Kublitz family lives quietly and comfortably in Copenhagen until a wounded Gentile resistance fighter, Niels (D.B. Sweeney), is saved from death by young Sarah Kublitz (Kelly Wood) who gives him shelter in the Kublitz home. Sarah and Niels fall in love as the Resistance learns of the Nazis plan to arrest Jews. Sarah's father, who works as a bookkeeper in a Nazi arms factory, must face some tough moral choices - including whether to sabotage the factory in which he works. A DAY IN OCTOBER, by the Academy Award winning producers of BABETTE'S FEAST, presents with distinction the true story of a nation that had the courage to stand up against the enemy.
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Anders Rønnow Klarlund's stunning new film imagines a mythical kingdom populated entirely by stringed puppets. The Emperor of Hebalon dies a dramatic death, taking a terrible secret to the grave with him. His young son, Hal Tara, is set to take over the throne, however, his uncle leads him to believe his father was murdered by the Zeriths, their sworn enemy. Forced to set out to avenge his father's death, Hal is unaware of the perils he is facing, both inside his kingdom and out. As he faces new challenges on this journey, he ends up discovering the truth about his own people - and where he least expects it - he finds true love. A dramatic tale of adventure, bondage and liberation; of love and war, destiny and vitality, identity and common humanity, Strings is a magical blend of themes that range from Shakespeare to Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings.
- Strings is a mythological story about the son of a king, Hal Tara, who sets out on a journey to revenge the death of his father. To his surprise he discovers the truth of his own people - and where he least expects it - he finds true love. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: CHILDREN Rating: NR Age: 720917546322 UPC: 720917546322 Manufacturer No: FLV5463
|It's All About Love
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Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix, Golden Globe winner Claire Danes and Academy Award winner Sean Penn star in this electrifying suspense-thriller set in a futuristic apocalyptic world. After years of living apart, John (Phoenix) arrives in New York to deliver divorce papers to world-famous ice skater Elena (Danes). But as he re-enters Elena's high-profile world of skating and celebrity, he soon discovers that unnerving things are slowly destroying his estranged wife. In a desperate fight for survival, John will risk everything to save Elena from her fate.
Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes, and a startlingly coiffured Sean Penn topline this visually striking hybrid of science fiction and art-house drama from Dogme 95 co-creator Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration). Phoenix and Danes are a recently separated Polish couple in the year 2021 who find their marital troubles overshadowed by a spate of strange and ominous phenomena plaguing the Earth–-people mysteriously drop dead in their tracks, cold snaps threaten a new Ice Age, and in Uganda, citizens must anchor themselves to the ground or risk sailing off into space. Add to this confluence of oddities a subplot involving clones of Danes, a murder plot hatched by her brother, and Penn as Phoenix's eccentric sibling who periodically weighs in from a plane, and you've got an occasionally impenetrable (and not particularly romantic) picture that may baffle fans of the stars' Hollywood efforts. However, the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle is beautiful, and those inclined towards more eclectic movie consumption might find some chilly treats to chew on here. --Paul Gaita
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