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Europa
Zentropa

Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany/Switzerland 1991
produced by
Bo Christensen, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, Francois Duplat (executive), Patrick Godeau (executive), Gérard Mital (executive), Gunnar Obel (executive) for Alicéléo, Det Danske Filminstitut, Eurimages, Institut Suisse du Film, Nordisk Film, Sofinergie, Svenska Filminstitutet, UGC Images, WMG Film
directed by Lars Von Trier
starring Jean-Marc Barr, Barbara Sukowa, Udo Kier, Ernst-Hugo Järegard, Eddie Constantine, Erik Mork, Jorgen Reenberg, Henning Jensen, Max von Sydow (voice), Benny Poulsen, Erno Müller, Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, Michael Phillip Simpson, Holger Perfort, Anne Werner Thomsen, Hardy Rafn, Caecilia Holbek Trier, János Herskó, Talila, Claus Flygare, Jon Ledin, Baard Owe, Leif Magnusson, Lars Von Trier
written by Lars Von Trier, Niels Vorsel, music by Joachim Holbek

Lars Von Trier's Europa Trilogy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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1945: Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) returns to Germany from America shortly after the war is over, but not as a GI, but to become a sleeping car conductor witht he help of his ill-tempered uncle (Ernst-Hugo Järegard), who doesn't have too high an opinion of his nephew.

While he is still a trainee, Leopold makes the acquaintance of Katharina Hartmann (Barbara Sukowa), daughter of Max Hartmann (Jorgen Reenberg), the owner of the Zentropa railroad Leopold is working for. For some reason, Leopold impresses her, and soon enough, he is invited to dinner at the Hartmanns. But all is not well, neither in Germany - where the terrorist group Werewolf tries to shatter the peace and kills those who collaborate with the occupying forces -, nor in the Hartmann household, where Max Hartmann has to prove he never was a Nazi in order to keep his railroad - which he does with the help of his good friend Colonel Harris (Eddie Constantine), as the Americans need someone who's able to run a railroad company like that. But actually, Hartmann suffers from depressions since it was his railroad that delivered Jews to Auschwitz. Eventually, Hartmann will kill himself ...

Meanwhile, Leopold has been turned into a pawn by the Werewolves who abuse his position and his connection to the Hartmanns to smuggle child terrorists aboard his sleeping car. After he realizes that he was (unwittingly) helping the Werewolves, Leopold confesses everything to Katharina, who in turn confesses to him that she was once a Werewolf herself ... but not anymore.

Eventually, Leopold and Katharina marry, but soon enough, Katharina is kidnapped by the Werewolves, and Leopold is told to blow the train up when crossing an important bridge if he ever wants to see his wife again.

On the trip with the bomb aboard, Leopold faces a dilemma, should he blow up the train (and the passengers) to save his wife's life or should he confess everything to Colonel Harris (who just happens to be aboard the train). The whole affair is not made any better by the fact that the Zentropa commission has picked exactly this traintrip to test their trainee, and they are not only oblivious to his problems, they also insist that he behaves.

At first, Leopold primes the bomb and jumps off the train, to immediately realize what he has done, run after the train again and defuse the bomb only seconds before it was supposed to go off. A short time later, his wife enters the train, arrested as a Werewolf. She confesses to him that she actually has always been a Werewolf (who even drove her father to suicide), and though she really loved Leopold, she only married him for the organisation's sake.

As the world breaks down for Leopold, he blows up the train after all, not for the Werewolfes' sake but to end this bitter farce ...

 

Even if my synopsis sounds like it, to see Europa as a historical drama would be dead-wrong. The film could be best described as an allegorical, psychedelic thriller with some connections to historical events (which are not always too accurate). As such, the film is fascinating, a trip to a dreamlike (parallel ?) world told in beautiful images and atmospheric setpieces. A wonderful movie, actually.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD