Director: Lars Von Trier
Screenwriters: Lars Von Trier

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


Spellbinding and rumbling with intensity, the latest feature from Lars von Trier is a thrilling, provocative interrogation of cherished ideas about human nature and the possibility of redemption.

Grace, a beautiful and mysterious woman, turns up one day in the remote Colorado mining town of Dogville, seeking refuge from pursuing gangsters and a brutal past. Promising to earn a place in the community by performing humble chores, she is gradually embraced by the seemingly virtuous townspeople. However, her pliable nature soon falls prey to demands that increase in presumptuousness and, ultimately, depravity. Supplanting gratitude with forgiveness, Grace is forced to reexamine her moral debt to her fellow man. The answer, when it comes, is unexpected and terrifying.

Von Trier maps this vast, existential terrain in an exquisitely stylized production, shot entirely on a sparsely dressed stage that evokes his story's mythic import. The town's social and spiritual dimensions are seamlessly enacted by one of the most exciting casts of recent memory, including Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara, James Caan, Chlöe Sevigny, Patricia Clarkson, Paul Bettany, and Jean-Marc Barr. In a monumental performance, Nicole Kidman perfectly embodies the film's alarming thematic suggestions, conveying the pain and rage that linger behind Grace's placid exterior. Simultaneously empathetic and iconoclastic, Dogville is a uniquely rewarding adventure in film.

— Shannon Kelley

Screening Details

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