For many years the Danish director Lars von Trier has defied critical expectations with each new film that he has released, and while doing so has built for himself a reputation as an ‘arch provocateur’ of cinema. Throughout May a definitive guide to his films will screen at BFI Southbank, tracing his relentless challenging of form and narrative ideals with some of the most innovative films of the last two decades. Following his ‘Europe Trilogy’ of Element of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987) and Europa (1991), came the Dogme 95 manifesto, established by von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. The values of Hollywood, blockbuster movies were eschewed in favour of a more true and defiant style of filmmaking. This resulted in The Idiots (1998) – a jaw-dropping accomplishment. He next surprised – and devastated some audiences – with the musical Dancer in the Dark (2000), starring Björk and Catherine Deneuve. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes that year. Subsequent films, directed and scripted by von Trier, have garnered awards and nominations from festivals across the world and have attracted major Hollywood stars, including Dogville (2003), with Nicole Kidman and Lauren Bacall, Manderlay (2005), featuring Danny Glover, and more recently Melancholia (2011) for which Kirsten Dunst won Best Actress at Cannes. As audiences and critics anticipate his next release, one thing that is certain is that Lars von Trier will provide a film worth talking about as all those before have been.
The films are screening from the 13th to the 31st May. Check the website for details.