1 June 2015

Manderlay

Manderlay 2005
  • Director: Lars von Trier
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Isaach De Bankolé, Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe, Lauren Bacall, Jean-Marc Barr, Mona Hammond, Ginny Holder, John Hurt (narrator), Zeljko Ivanek, Suzette Llewellyn, Joseph Mydell, Chloë Sevigny, Nina Sosanya
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Bryce Dallas Howard – The Help, Terminator Salvation, As You Like It, The Village, A Beautiful Mind
    • Issach De Bankolé – Battle in Seattle, Le scaphandre et le papillon, Casino Royale, Night on Earth, Chocolat
    • Danny Glover - Be Kind Rewind, Honeydripper, Dreamgirls, 2012, The Royal Tenenbaums, Bopha, Lethal Weapon 1-4, The Color Purple, Silverado
    • Willem Dafoe - Spiderman, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Paris je t’aime, American Dreamz,  The Aviator, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, eXistenZ, Lulu on the Bridge, The English Patient, Wild at Heart, Cry Baby, Born on the Fourth of July, Mississippi Is Burning, The Last Temptation of Christ, Dear America, Platoon, Streets of Fire
    • Lauren Bacall – Dogville, Misery, probably older films
    • John Hurt – Merlin, I Claudius, Harry Potter,Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Melancholia, Rob Roy and seven million others
    • Zeljko Ivanek – In Bruges, Dogville, Dancer in the Dark, Snow Falling on Cedars, Homicide Life on the Street, Donnie Brasco
    • Joseph Mydell – Jeeves and Wooster
    • Chloë Sevigny – Zodiac, Broken Flowers, Dogville, The Last Days of Disco
    • Nina Sosanya – Bone Kickers, Much Ado about Nothing Re-Told, Love Actually
  • Why? Lars von Trier, Dogville
  • Seen:  Twice before. Now: May 31, 2015 

Lars von Trier is very strange.  Dogville is a masterpiece. Manderlay is a bit more problematic but I liked it the first two times.
Or maybe liked isn’t the right word.  It’s a very uncomfortable film. Slavery, racism, liberalism, white-man’s-burdenism. Or in this case white woman’s burden.  A well-meaning – or is she? – young white woman, daughter of a wealthy gangster, liberates a plantation of slaves, moves in and takes over.
The beautiful words ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ and ‘justice’ somehow don’t ring true. Somehow they’re warped, distorted.
Slave mentality, mistrust, laziness.  Why don’t things go the way they should?  And even when they do, why isn’t it right?
It’s intricate. It’s disturbing. This is what happens when an individual dictates the terms of how the oppressed must throw off their chains.
The film is fascinating. The scenography, as in Dogville, is essentially non-existent. Walls and doors aren’t there, buildings might be demarcated with a line on the stage. 
It’s a painful and accurate look at racism. ‘Like’ is not the word. It’s provocative, maybe offensive.
It’s Lars von Trier. See it.

4 * of 5


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