You must prepare yourself for at least one scene in Lars von Trier's tragi-comic musical that will burn into your brain for the rest of your life. It comes after more than two hours of unrelenting sadness and sacrifice.
You must be strong enough to bear it when Selma screams: "I can't breathe" and you must be human enough to cry.
Selma's story begins in the early 'sixties. She is a Czech immigrant and a single mum working in a Washington factory. Selma has a passion for Hollywood musicals and is trying out for the lead in a local production of The Sound of Music.
Her tragedy is that she is losing her eyesight and her son will meet the same fate unless she squirrels away enough cash to pay for an operation.
OTHER 5 Star movies:
She has saved $2026 when a desperate act by a man she had thought of as a guardian angel plunges her life into a pit of heartache and despair.
Dancer has elements of soap opera but is transformed into a miracle by the mesmerising Bjork...the Icelandic singer/songwriter who was so affected by Selma's pain that she swore never to act again (but did).
When first screened at Cannes, egghead critics howled derision, but it won the major prize anyway and Bjork, who wrote the eerie, atmospheric score, was awarded Best Actress.
You must realise when Selma suddenly bursts into song that she lives in a dream world, dominated by music.
Boldly, provocatively and with deep emotion and daring, von Trier reinvents the musical.
Dancer in the Dark is astonishing and gut-wrenching...the first masterpiece of the 21st century. * * * * *
Trivia: After clashing with Von Trier, Bjork walked off the set, tearing at her costume. Von Trier described her as a "mad woman" but Bjork denies one report that she "ate her dress."
Free on You Tube: Rotten Tomatoes audience rating 91 per cent.
***** Sunset Boulevard (1950, B&W, William Holden, Gloria Swanson). Classic drama; rent on YouTube.
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