“On the count of ten, you will be in Europa,” narrates Max von Sydow while we watch train tracks beneath us during the beginning of this 1991 film. There are many different artistic aspects of Europa that prove it’s a very unique film.
One of the many aspects of this film directed by Lars von Trier is that the film often transfers between black-and-white and color Wizard of Oz-style. However, instead of doing the clichéd version where everything is so boring and black-and-white until we’re introduced with excitement and color, we move back and forth between telling the story in a Hollywood Casablanca styled way (which is in color) and a noire approach to the story (which is in black-and-white).
Another interesting decision by von Trier is to have layers of storytelling within one scene. An example of this is when Leo and Kat have their first kiss under a table at a party while, in the background, we watch the party. This shot effectively shows two things ...view middle of the document...
This is interesting because the scene is not specifically dedicated to black-and-white or color; and it doesn’t follow the usual pattern of golden-age romance vs. modern noir. This scene is done in black-and-white except for the blood that is drawn from his stabbings, which is brightly emphasized in red. This is to show that, at that moment, it feels to Max as if the whole world revolves around the blood that he draws. Another scene that does this is when Leo pulls the emergency brake on the train to stop it from moving. At the moment he pulls the brake, he feels as if way too much is happening to him and he can’t control so many things at once. He decides that if he stops the train, the conflict will also stop. Throughout this scene, the brake is the only thing in color, and it is highly emphasized in red. To Leo, everything revolves around this one brake at this one moment.
There is also a very hypnotic aspect of Europa. Max von Sydow opens the film with his narration, “You will now listen to my voice… On the count of ten, you will be in Europa.” Then, he counts to ten while trying to hypnotize you. You have no idea why he’s attempting to do this at first, but then you see a man in Germany and von Sydow narrates “You are in Germany.” You realize that you are being portrayed by Jean-Marc Barr. You also realize that you, or at least your character, has been hypnotized. Throughout the film, you do what is told of you. Finally, by the end, you come out of your trance, realize that everyone has been manipulating you through hypnosis, and you rebel. You have been hypnotized, but now you are out of it.
Europa is a very artistic movie that helped define the differences you can do in film. It helps show that film doesn’t have to be any specific thing; film can be anything you want it to be. Europa is a tribute to film as well as a hypnotic video. It has many layers (literally) and many subplots going on at once. By the end of it, you are so stressed out by everything that’s happened that you want to do what Kessler (you) does and take control. You are so tired from trying to figure out what each artistic aspect of the film means, and you just want to shoot everybody on this figurative train. So you do.