May. 06, 2002 - 12:04 pm

Dancer In The Dark (2000)

this is a very cool movie. definitely an innovative look at the possibilities of the musical. it's not very much like any others that i can remember having seen. if you haven't seen this or don't know much about it, you may remember that Bjork starred in it and made the film most visible at the Oscars when she wore her "swan dress" and sang "I've Seen It All" which was nominated for best song last year. Bjork starred in this film and composed the music for it. it's the story of a Czech immigrant girl who is living in the U.S. working at a factory and going blind at the same time. she's a very unusual person who loves musicals and often retreats into her mind living out fantasy dance numbers in her head in order to avoid the real world. the main conflict of the film is the lengths that she must go to in order to pay for her son's operation to prevent him from going blind at some future date.

i really enjoyed this movie. i'll give it an 8/10. the musical numbers weren't bad at all to watch and the music was excellent. (if you like Bjork's music like i do.) acting was very good too. Bjork did a great job. it's too bad she's decided not to do any more films. but i can definitely see what she means when she says it takes too much out of her.

the main thing i've been thinking about in relation to Dancer In The Dark is actually the editing style. let me try to do justice to this... it's like they do these little time skip cuts between all of the important things that happen in a scene. it's not as noticeable or distracting because of the cinematography but it's still there. (nearly all of the main action of the film is shot with a hand-held camera which does closeups like 75% of the time, excluding the musical/fantasy sequences which are shot on tripods and cranes usually doing long shots.) the time skip cuts will be like you see Selma (Bjork's character) getting her week's pay out of her bag after she gets home and then instantly we cut to a shot of her putting the money in its final resting spot - her tin which she hides it in. sometimes we get much more time compressed in this manner. sometimes days go by and the audience is not alerted. classical hollywood editing style would normally make you do something different to show that time had passed. example: fade to black after the first day's action is finished, then fade back in to the later day. even a cross dissolve could do the same task.

now this editing style i think works for this film. i'm not knocking it in this context. the main thing that sprung to my mind watching it was that the mainstream media tend to get their ideas from art. i would REALLY hate to watch an action/adventure film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger with this editing style throughout. just think about it.

but Dancer In The Dark was a great film on the whole. i gotta give props for the overture. i think that was actually the best part of the film for me. not that the rest wasn't good, but that was just exquisite. visually and aurally. hey, i just noticed Bjork's last name is Gudmundsdottir. sound familiar? if it doesn't, you really need to go watch one of the greatest meta-filmic films of all time...Robert Altman's The Player (1992).