Film Review: THE ELEMENT OF CRIME (1984)

Film Review: THE ELEMENT OF CRIME (1984)

Oct 29, 2018

IMDb: The Element of Crime (1984)
Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Michael Elphick, Esmond Knight, Me Me Lai

The films of Lars Von Trier are polarizing, even within his fan base. As I watch people discuss his works online, it seems to me that many people fall into two categories. There are fans of his early works that are experimental and surreal. The others are fans of his more modern works that deal with sex and depression. I can definitely find positives in most of his works, as he has always been a visionary. He is one of the greatest directors of all time. His style is some next level stuff . His content will always shock and amaze. He should be respected as one of the most important film-makers of all time, even by people that don’t love his work.

We have to give respect where respect is due. This may mean that this review kick starts my next director retrospective. Who knows? All I know, is that this is one of my favorite films from this director. It is a part of his Europa Trilogy, dealing with sci-fi and political themes in a futuristic European Dystopia. It is filmed through a sepia filter, using claustrophobic set design and methodical camera movement.

While the plot is similar to films like 12 Monkeys and The Cell, the filming structure reminds me of the work of David Lynch. The Industrial nature of Eraserhead with the inventive and symbolic lighting used in Mulholland Drive is combined to make a truly important work of art. The bottom line is that I love this damn movie. It is underrated and obscure. It is a film that would fit in today’s underground scene as easily as it would in a classic film interpretation course.

I found the DVD release from The Criterion Collection to be very affordable. While it will probably get a Blu upgrade, I think I am happy with this one for now. Their standard definition are nice and clean looking anyway. Sadly, the Blus are only affordable at a half off sale, and even then it needs to be a film you really like to drop the cash on it.

Like many collectors, my budget can change. I also need to prioritize, because I could very easily just buy everything I see and wonder why I’m broke for the next two months. So if I can find the older DVD releases from Criterion for next to nothing, I will do that and save up to upgrade the films that I really want. As far as this director’s work goes, I would get this upgrade if it became available. I would toss around the idea of upgrading Antichrist, while laughing at any thought of buying a Blu-ray release of Melancholia.

So with that being said, I know a little bit about the span of his career. I love this and Antichrist. They are both from the different groups I mentioned above. They have both been given The Criterion treatment. Films like Nymphomaniac and Melancholia had different releases, and really don’t need to be in The Criterion Collection. They, along with Dogville, are my least favorite works. So I guess this definitely has the making of a retrospective and a ranking of his films. Lucky for you, if you only read this review, you have read one of my strongest recommendations of the work of this great director.


Originallu published on May 9, 2017