Saturday, July 19, 2008

Medea (1988)

Essential Von Trier

This beautiful piece of art is one of Lars Von Trier's best works, and is certaintly the best of his pre-dogma period. It is based on a previously unfilmed script by the master Carl Th. Dreyer (Lars claimed to be in constant telepathic communication with him during its filming), and tells the story of Medea's revenge on Jason (of the Argonauts) after he leaves her to become the heir of a throne. The plot is sparse; the real star of this film is Von Trier's direction and great command of mood. Many of the techniques employed in "Zentropa" and "Element of Crime" are used, as well as an extremely drab and degraded film image, and all serve to create a harsh other-world filled with despair. By John Q. Rowland

"Lars von Trier's direction makes this film a shocking look into the disturbed mind of a woman who has been scorned and left. Medea's revenge is horrible but never unbelievable. She does what every sane person would do, when deprived of all that she loves. The film burns itself into your mind and leaves you with a lasting impression of what human misery can be like."

"Wow, this is an inspired film. It takes the myth of Jason written by Euripedes and a script by Carl Th. Dreyer, boths testimony has been proved by the test of time and makes a fantastic low budget masterpiece epic of it. Some people think that its production values spoils the experience, but I would like to ask them this: would Claude Monets paintings look better if they were polished? We see into the fabric of film here and I think that only heightens the realism or it makes me believe it the more as a film, if the focus was on making it look real several other things would get lost."

For anyone curious about the film's unique visual texture, Medea was shot on video, projected and re-shot on film, and then transferred back to tape again (with the colour being treated and manipulated at each stage). This was, in Trier's words, "to get away from that video look, which I wasn't keen on". A similar, albeit more refined, process was subsequently used for The Kingdom (Riget). By cainc5


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