Thursday, August 25, 2011

13. "I've Seen It All" from Dancer In The Dark

You want some Bjork?  Well here's your Bjork.

From time to time, a director strays from his own beaten path and does something entirely unexpected, and for a great many filmmakers, that unexpected something would be making a musical.  Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet, John Huston and Martin Scorsese have all tried their hands, but more successful (and surprising) than them all is Lars von Trier.  Whether thanks to him, or his most unlikely leading lady to date, Dancer In The Dark is a modern cult classic, and the consensus is generally strong enough that you could probably drop the cult label all together.  Thus far, at least, it seems to have held ground as one of the more important European imports of the last decade, and really, was there a better musical in all that time.  I think not.  Ok, I secretly think 8 Women, but the technical mastery of Dancer is hard to argue with, and its emotion impact is earth shattering.

And then we get to the best song and dance of the show, the melancholy, but not-overwhelmingly depressing slice that is "I've Seen It All."  Credit for the music goes to the Icelandic songbird herself, while von Trier taps into ethereal greatness for the dreamy locomotion that moves the music along.  It also fulfills my suspected hypothesis that no great genre of cinema is without at least one memorable train scene.  Yes, I guess we got a bit of that with The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as well, but here we get train dancing, and train dancing is infinitely more uplifting than train farewells.  A shame the rest of this film isn't.  If you thought Umbrellas was a tear-jerker, than Dancer in the Dark will probably make you walk into traffic.  "I've Seen It All" is an emotional high in a film that relishes every emotional low.  Soak it up.

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