The most famous Danish director since Carl Dreyer, Lars von Trier has as many fans as he has detractors. However, both would agree that he is an auteur with a strong personality. Von Trier’s debut movie, The Element of Crime (Forbrydelsens element, 1984), was the first part of his “Europe in disintegration” trilogy, completed by Epidemic (1987) and Europa (1991). All were shot in a mixture of black-and-white and color, with an atmosphere of despair.
Breaking the Waves (1996), von Trier’s first English-language work – filmed like a home video – and Dancer in the Dark (2000), a musical about an East European woman who goes to the US with her son, were unashamedly melodramatic. Dogville (2003) and Manderlay (2005), set in an imaginary US, experimented with minimalist theatrical sets. The Idiots (Idioterne, 1998) set out successfully to shock audiences into accepting people with learning difficulties.