The Element of Crime

1987
6.7| 1h44m| NR| en| More Info
Released: 17 April 1987 Released
Producted By: Det Danske Filminstitut
Country: Denmark
Budget: 0
Revenue: 0
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Fisher, an ex-detective, decides to take one final case when a mysterious serial killer claims the lives of several young girls. Fisher, unable to find the culprit, turns to Osbourne, a writer who was once respected for his contributions to the field of criminology. Fisher begins to use Osbourne's technique, which involves empathizing with serial killers; however, as the detective becomes increasingly engrossed in this method, things take a disturbing turn.

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Director

Lars von Trier

Production Companies

Det Danske Filminstitut

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The Element of Crime Audience Reviews

SpuffyWeb Sadly Over-hyped
Ensofter Overrated and overhyped
FeistyUpper If you don't like this, we can't be friends.
VeteranLight I don't have all the words right now but this film is a work of art.
LeonLouisRicci Captivating, Mesmerizing, Hypnotic, Saturating Visuals Highlight this Debut Film from Director Von Trier. It's a Slow-Burn, Slow-Walk through an Ex-Cop's Hypnosis Projection to Solve a Serial Child-Murder Spree. The Lotto Girls Murder Case.Drawing from the Fringes of Cinema's Auteurs, LVT Crafts a Modern Dystonia Film-Noir that Slogs through the Earth's Elements (Water-Earth-Air-Fire) as the Sights Unfold and are Overlaid on the Viewer's Perception of Things and it's all Murky, Muddy, Smoky, and Smoldering with Rain, Ashes, and Ambiguity.Nothing is Clear. After All, it's a Hypnotic State as Fisher (Michael Elphick), the Detective, Voice Overs Occasionally to Relay what the Experience Uncovers and it's all Very Unpleasant.The Movie is Stunningly Framed, with an Enormous Amount of Attention to Detail, and the Cinematography and Lighting are Breathtaking. It Truly is Artistic. The Narrative is not that Engaging and the Dialog only Occasionally Ignites. The Crime Story Itself seems Anti-Climatic when it is Resolved.Overall, it is Experimental Movie-Making from a Rookie Director and Divides Audiences to Extremes. Worth a Watch for the Avant-garde and Cult Movie Fans.Mainstream Audience Acceptance will Not be Forthcoming. But for those that Prefer Their Film Going Experience to be on the Edge. Look No Further than the Filmography of Lars Von Trier's.
meritcoba It was in those days that I was in Alcatraz visiting a man whose name was not familiar to me and whose identity was hidden behind a mask of dirt and gold. When I turned the corner from the corridor leading to Cell-block D into Cell-block D, I suddenly found myself in a riot. There was shouting, people fighting and the smoke of fires curled upwards. Black and red banners could be seen behind the smoke. Near me a woman guard had been grabbed by two men and when they saw me they ripped of her clothes and tried to force me to beat her with her own stick. But the screams of a little girl distracted them and we ran away. She holding the tatters of her clothes against her naked body, and me pulling her forward. Then we stumbled and fell. I pulled her down. She laying on top of me. Her lips close to mine.. her breathing heavy. Her ample bosom pushing against me. Her nipples hard through the fabric of my clothes. And then and there we had...Element of Crime has a great idea: to track down a murderer you submerge yourself into his personality. But the protagonist, Fisher, goes (too) far in this method which is based on a book called Element of Crime, written by his old mentor Osborne and the title of the movie. He nearly becomes a murdered himself. It would have been a great story, if it wasn't for the chaotic messy story and imagery. The movie is a jumble of imagery filled with symbolism, repeating of images, people talking, fighting and running around. There are the obligatory sex scenes, scream scenes and naked women scenes(never naked men) and an old man. It is pretentious in trying very hard to be art but forgetting that a neat idea does not make a neat story without some good old story telling. This is what the movie is not. You might use cool camera angles. You might film everything in sepia. It still doesn't make for a good story.The movie thus falls flat on it's face: good idea, bad execution. I suspect it will be up for a remake. Maybe even by von Trier himself, now he has added a few decades experience in movie making. Perhaps he even smiles a little when he thinks about this movie.. the stuff one does when you are young, pretentious and inexperienced..
treywillwest Von Trier's first film ranks with anything he's ever done visually, but otherwise it feels very much like a first movie, even a student film by a student of obvious genius. While Von Trier's visual influences are more obvious here than usual- namely, Tarkovsky, he borrows the style and perhaps transcends it. The use of water here is perhaps more dazzling than anything Tarkovsky achieved. Their are surfaces that seem impossible and dream-like, above and below the abyss at once. It is very dream-like, and that is a problem. The plot is a rather over-baked Kafka-ized noir cliché. As in "Europa," its all about how all is already written, but not in the religious, apocalyptic sense of his later work. Here, the apocalypse has already happened. All presence is absence. Which, I think, makes Von Trier a filmmaker alert to his cultural moment. Everything was inevitablest, post-modern irony until shortly before 911, and then the possibility of radical rupture re-introduced itself into the world, and into Von Trier's art. Change, be it glorious or disastrous, messianic or satanic, was and is again on the menu.
nikhil7179 .. Or how to make a Tarkovskian Noir.Using all the staples of the master - the sepia overlay, the fluid tracking shots, the long takes, etc. Von Trier inverts the spiritual leanings of the former to serve his own nihilistic ends.Lars is a troublemaker and an obscenely gifted filmmaker - a lethal combination, and the result is a deeply unsettling and equally engaging piece of work, which more than hints at the greatness to follow.Tom Elling's dexterous and inventive cinematography is par excellence - a milestone in terms of technical and aesthetic brilliance.One of the more interesting debut films ever made, Von Trier channels The Third Man, Borges and even Hitchcock as he playfully sets up his cinematic game of cat and mouse.Of course, plot/meaning as Fisher himself finds out, is secondary to mood.