Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Udo Kier, Kirsten Olesen, Henning Jensen, Solbjørg Højfeldt, Preben Lerdorff Rye
Director: Lars von Trier
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Facets Multimedia Release Date: 05/30/2003
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Essential Von Trier
John Q. Rowland | Portland, OR United States | 06/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This beautiful piece of art is one of Lars Von Trier's best works, and is certaintly the best of his pre-dogma period. It is based on a previously unfilmed script by the master Carl Th. Dreyer (Lars claimed to be in constant telepathic communication with him during its filming), and tells the story of Medea's revenge on Jason (of the Argonauts) after he leaves her to become the heir of a throne. The plot is sparse; the real star of this film is Von Trier's direction and great command of mood. Many of the techniques employed in "Zentropa" and "Element of Crime" are used, as well as an extremely drab and degraded film image, and all serve to create a harsh other-world filled with despair.About the DVD: sound is good, and while the image is made intentionally ugly by Von Trier, it is hard to say if the picture was made any worse in this transfer. Regardless, this release marks the first time U.S. audiences get to see this masterpiece, and lovers of Von Trier, Dreyer, art, and avant-garde cinema can't afford to miss it!!"
"Why must women bear so much?...
Leslie Thompson | a mid-atlantic state, USA | 07/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...Wordlessly submissive in body and deed? What rights have women?" --Medea
People seem disappointed with the transfer to DVD, but it didn't bother me too much. It's an old video, so I wouldn't expect it to be perfect. All things technical need not be perfect at all times.
This story was one of my favorites in college, so I was naturally interested in the film versions. I prefer this adaptation to the one with Maria Callas. The atmosphere is more suitable in von Trier's work, with the mist, wind, barren land, gray seas. It also reflects Medea's mood, I think. Such bleak imagery for her depressed state.
However, I found it interesting that birds were chirping on the sunny day that Medea hung her children (I think she stabbed them in the book). I also found it somewhat unrealistic when the older son told her that he knew what was going to happen, and when he put the noose around his own neck.
Not much dialogue, but that's okay, because it didn't need much (if you know the story).
Great lines by Medea, as one would expect: "I'd rather bleed behind a shield than bearing a man's children." With this review's title quotation, it is clear that Medea feels her oppression as a female in a patriarchal society. She would rather be a soldier than a mother - more active, aggressive. Alas, she "was but his prey." She left her country and family for Jason, helped him find the fleece, but he ends up betraying her.
Medea is obviously a feminist of her time, noting how society discriminates against her, knowing that pride is good fortune for Jason, but bad fortune for her. That's still true in today's society. Aggressive, arrogant women are looked down upon much more than are aggressive, arrogant men. It's the "bitch" character flaw vs. the "normal (strong!)" male personality. And her powers and intelligence (again, also happens today) are underestimated until the end.
There is a beautiful scene involving a horse that was cut by the poisoned crown. It appears to go crazy, breaking free from its ties and frantically running out to the beach towards the sea, until it finally collapses, seizing until it is still. That horse did some good acting, or maybe they really stabbed it or something.
Something that bothered me about Medea's appearance - that hideous skull cap. I wanted to see her hair, I've always pictured Medea with wild long hair. She let it out one time, at the end of the movie. Perhaps the cap represented her bondage to Jason, and taking it off signaled her release? That's probably a stretch, but it's what came to mind when I saw it.
I've never felt sorry for Jason. He brought it on himself. Did he deserve to have his children, new wife and father in law murdered? Perhaps not, but it is Medea's last hurrah and her right as a scorned woman. Men tried to diminish her power, but she outsmarted them all by pretending that she had been wrong, apologizing to Jason, acting proper, submissive, meek (non-threatening).
The sad thing is, Jason seems like the kind of man who would do that all over again if given the chance. He is too self-centered to see what how his actions will affect those who have grown to trust and love him. Moral of the story: obey the "Do not commit adultery" commandment, or someone might break the "Do not murder" commandment.
"There is no greater sorrow than love." --Medea"
G. Ratcheson | Washington | 04/27/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Stay away from Facets. I thought the transfer was poor on the Facets edition of Heimat, but this makes the US Facets Heimat look hi-def by comparison. This dvd is pixilated, grainy & just barely this side of unwatcheable. This transfer makes many of the dollar store dvd's look good by comparison. I can't believe Facets has the gall to charge $30 for this. This review & the 1 star rating is for this dvd, Not for the film. The transfer is so bad that I can't judge or enjoy the film."
Susan M. Dunn | Alameda, CA | 02/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I did not want to see this movie at all. I knew the sad story, so why would I want to see it? Curiousity got the better of me when my husband was viewing it. Von Triers triumphed in this brilliant piece of work. I ended up considering it one of the finest films I have seen. In my opinion, Von Triers got everything right.
Don't miss this!!"