Manderlay

I didn’t see a topic about this one yet.

Manderlay is the newest movie from Lars Von Trier (dancer in the dark, breaking the waves, …) and it’s the sequel to Dogville (part 2 from the trilogy) in which the young Grace, after leaving Dogville, comes across a cottonfarm where slavery is still practised (seventy years after it was originally abolished).

It’s a hit or miss movie I think, if you didn’t like dogville, chances are small you’ll enjoy this one, but personally I loved it. It has its flaws (especially in the beginning imo) and is far from perfect - but the second part of the movie is very strong. Just like dogville, the decors are minimalistic and in the form of a play, but it works a bit better this time because it’s less focused on the gimmick of this, and more on the story. The story is quite good, I like how it turns out in the end and this alone is worth the watch.

Told in eight chapters, Manderlay is the second feather-ruffling installment of Lars von Trier’s USA trilogy, which began with the rousingly abstract Dogville. Applying the same John Hurt narration and the unwalled Brechtian floorplan of chalk outlines to represent buildings and landscapes (used to much greater effect this time around), von Trier’s latest is a wound-opening critique on America’s slave-keeping past that deserves to be confronted. Flame-haired Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) replaces Nicole Kidman in the role of gangster’s daughter Grace, who stumbles upon an active slave plantation while driving through the deep south in 1933. As slavery was abolished some seventy years earlier, the self-righteous Grace feels it her duty to intervene, seizing control of the crops from the former owner and giving freedom to everyone inside. But are the former slaves prepared for the trials and tribulations of freedom?

Nothing kills me more than von Trier’s response to critics who wondered how he could justify making movies critical of America when he’d never been there. Paraphrased, he said something to the effect of “I’m pretty sure the guys who wrote Casablanca had never been there either.”

I loved Dogville - it’s in my top ten of the decade, so far. Too bad he couldn’t get Kidman for this one as well, as I thought she was absolutely terrific.

To be honest, I didn’t see the movie as a critisism towards america, but more towards democracy, racism and group pressure/societies in general. It could just as wel been a story in a different timeperiode and a different situation (from current iraq to europe in the middle ages). It’s a story about oppression, free will, freedom and a clash of values/political cultures that could fit different settings.

Any reason why Kidman didn’t come back for this one?

According to imdb:" Nicole Kidman, who played Grace in Dogville (2003) was intended to star in Manderlay (2005) as well as a third trilogy installment, but pulled out of the project in July 2003 due to conflicting schedules."

Too bad, because her performance in dogville was excellent. Howard does it ok though, although I didn’t like her in the first 15 minutes.