Zentropa

Lars von Trier's 1991 thriller is technically powerful, stylistically assured, and thematically provocative (if emotionally somewhat remote); at times it suggests a European equivalent of Barton Fink, though it's even more impressive in certain ways. (The intricate camera movements and the combinations of color with black and white within single shots are often stunning.) A Danish-French-German-Swedish production in English that shared the jury prize at the Cannes festival, the film follows a young American traveling through Germany immediately after World War II as an apprentice to a railroad conductor; he becomes embroiled in intrigues involving a mysterious woman (Barbara Sukowa) and an underground group fighting against the Allies. Fascinating as a contemporary and rather mordant meditation on Common Market Europe and international coproduction, this is a key work whether one warms to it or not. Known as Europa until its U.S. distributor renamed it to avoid confusion with Europa Europa; with Jean-Marc Barr, Udo Kier, and narration by Max von Sydow. In English and subtitled German. 114 min.

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