In Defense Of A Movie I Haven't Even Seen
has some strong words for Lars von Trier's latest film, Dogville
I haven't seen the movie yet, but I certainly plan to. Part of it
is that, ever since Moulin Rouge
, my wife and I have been
big Nicole Kidman fans (which doesn't mean I always enjoy her films
(hello, The Hours
and Cold Mountain
) but I
do think she choses interesting projects to be in). Another
reason is that I thought Dancer in the Dark
directed by von Trier) was an excellent movie. I'm a fan of
musicals, and I found von Trier's twists on the standard song-and-dance
conventions refreshing. Further, given how many movies have
sappy, unrealistic resolutions that come out out of nowhere, I also
appreciated the film's rather bleak outlook and ending. Sean, on
the other hand, views Dancer
as a "crassly manipulative" film
which "nearly drove its open-hearted genius of a star Bjork
insane." Now, I'm not quite up-to-date on my celebrity gossip,
but, yes, I do remember reading reports of Bjork and von Trier feuding
on the set of Dancer
. (I also remember reports
Bjork, several years before she collaborated with
Trier, assaulting a female television reporter who approached Bjork and
her son in the Thailand airport
I'm not sure how any of that really affects the resulting film one way
or the other, though. Do behind-the-scenes conflicts really
matter when judging the work itself? Does Hitchcock's reported
treatment of his actors diminish the appeal or impact of his
films? Does Cerebus
fail as a comic solely because
of creator Dave Sim's outlandish beliefs?
This isn't to suggest that knowledge external to a work of art (or
entertainment, if you prefer) can never enter into one's reactions to
said work. For example, reports about CrossGen's treatment of
creators (particularly the long-standing issue of non-payment) may give
one pause when one is putting together one's monthly comic order.
But those are considerations of commerce
, not art. Do I want to support this creator (or
company) by purchasing his (their) work?
not, Does this work, considered on its own,
have any artistic merit?
I suspect that what's really bugging Sean is the (in his view)
"anti-Americanism" that supposedly pervades Dogville
How accurate that label is I really can't say. Again, I haven't
seen the film yet, nor am I interested in reading any specific reviews
or criticism of the film until I have seen it. But in any event,
can't an artist create worthwhile (i.e., challenging,
thought-provoking) art even if his politics disagree with ours?
Or is it now the case that, in art as well as in politics, you're
either with us or against us?
to my entry.