Musical marionettes: Sound and music in Lars von Trier's Europe trilogy

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Several contemporary film directors have created distinct auteur-signatures through their approach to music. The article analyzes how Lars von Trier has used music and sound to enhance his idiosyncratic visions from early on in his dystopian Europe-trilogy comprising The Element of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987), and Europa (1991). These films playfully invoke film and film music stereotypes and references as part of their apocalyptic visions. They do so, however, in very different ways: The generic music mood-approach in The Element of Crime; the claim on big emotions through the use of Wagner’s overture to Tannhäuser in Epidemic; and an emphasis on stylistic elements rather than on character action in combination with musical salutations to film history in Europa. These various forms of music seldom provide access to characters’ psychology or invite emotional engagement in them. Rather, the music enhances stylistic patterns, which adds a dissonant beauty to the brutal sceneries and disconnect the male protagonists from a classical goal oriented series of actions. Trier thereby ambiguously situates his characters in a narrative of which they – despite their best intention – have no control. Instead, the protagonists finally surrender to their fate as marionettes in a musically orchestrated narrative.
TidsskriftStudies in European Cinema
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)82-96
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 2023

ID: 367297027