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“Europe in the Mist”: The Imaginary of European History in Lars von Trier’s Europa and in Dancer in the Dark

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses upon two films from the Post-Cold War period, both directed by Lars von Trier, whose star began to rise internationally in the early 1990s. His Europa successfully premiered at Cannes in 1991, while his Dancer in the Dark is from the year 2000. The subtitle of Thomas Elsaesser's European Cinema (2005) is telling: Face to Face with Hollywood. This subtitle implies that, in order to understand the work of European directors, one has to take into account how they position themselves towards the most dominant stream within the film industry. Dancer in the Dark turns this traditional pattern of the melodrama inside out. As such, Europa and Dancer in the Dark can contribute to a reconsideration of the task of Post-Cold War historiography: historians should focus upon the question whether the invitation to westernize the East is not a gift with sharp thorns.

Keywords: Dancer in the Dark; Europa; Lars von Trier; Post-Cold War historiography; Post-Cold War period; Thomas Elsaesser's European Cinema



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