by Allan Fish
(Denmark 2005 139m) DVD1/2
Man’s law, a book and movie in eight chapters
p Vibeke Windelov d/w Lars Von Trier ph Anthony Dod Mantle ed Bodil Kjærhauge, Molly Marlene Stensgard art Peter Grant cos Manon Rasmussen
Bryce Dallas Howard (Grace), Willem Dafoe (Father), Danny Glover (Wilhelm), Isaach de Bankolé (Timothy), Lauren Bacall (Mam), Jeremy Davies (Niels), Udo Kier (Mr Kirspe), Jean-Marc Barr (Mr Robinsson), Mona Hammond (Wilma), Chloë Sevigny (Philomena), Nina Sosonya (Rose), Suzette Llewellyn (Flora), John Hurt (narrator),
Manderlay is a film that was eagerly awaited ever since its predecessor Dogville premiered at Cannes in 2003 to the usual Von Trier reception, equal parts vitriol and garlands. He intended it to be the first part in a proposed trilogy on America, in which Manderlay is the second instalment. That it is very nearly the equal of the original speaks volumes not just of Von Trier himself, but in his ability to succeed even when the novelty if its uniquely simplistic style of shooting was no longer fresh. It’s a film that demands several viewings to take in its intricacies.
Upon their departure from the destroyed mountain community of Dogville, Grace and her gangster father return to Colorado to find that his territory has been taken over and, rather than fight it out, they take the diplomatic route of going somewhere else. On their way, they stop by an old southern plantation, where they are amazed when a black woman comes over to their parked car to get help for their master. Grace is then told how the community of Manderlay still lives by the rules of slavery, with an old white mistress known only as Mam, and her more youthful members of the family. Grace is appalled and uses her father’s men to help her teach the slaves about freedom denied to them for the last 68 years. (more…)