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
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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.