Epidemic (film)

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Epidemic FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Lars von Trier
Written by Niels Vørsel
Lars von Trier
Starring Niels Vørsel
Lars von Trier
Cinematography Henning Bendtsen
Edited by Thomas Kragh
Release dates 11 September 1987
Running time 106 min.[1]
Country Denmark
Language Danish

Epidemic is a 1987 film directed by Lars von Trier. It is the second of Trier's films known collectively as the Europa trilogy. The other two films in the trilogy are The Element of Crime (1984) and Europa (1991).

Co-written by Niels Vørsel, focuses on the screenwriting process. Vørsel and von Trier play themselves, coming up with a last-minute script for a producer. This story is intercut with scenes from the film they write, in which von Trier plays a renegade doctor trying to cure a modern-day epidemic. This film marks the first in a series of collaborations between von Trier and Udo Kier.


The movie is divided into five days. On the first day the protagonists, screenwriters Lars (Lars Von Trier) and Niels (Niels Vørsel) lose the only copy of a movie’s script (Kommisæren Og Luderen, "The Policeman and the Whore," a reference to The Element of Crime). They begin to write a new script about an epidemic: the outbreak of a plague-like disease. The protagonist is a doctor, Mesmer, who, against the will of the Faculty of Medicine of an unknown city, goes to the countryside to help people. During the next days, the facts of the script join the real-life events in which a similar disease starts to spread. Lars and Niels go to Germany, where they meet a man (Udo Kier) who describes the bombing of Cologne during World War II. After the trip, Niels goes to a hospital where he undergoes a minor surgical procedure, and tells Lars to go to see Palle, a pathologist who is executing an autopsy to a man who has recently died of an unknown disease. The last day, Lars and Niels have a dinner with their producer, to whom they reveal the end of the movie, that Mesmer and his medical kit have spread the disease. The producer doesn’t like the short 12-page script, which has no violence, few deaths and no subplots (which are common in Danish cinema). After that a hypnotist and a woman arrive in the house, to “help” writing the script, but the woman is overpowered by the visions of the script which are becoming real. She commits suicide, then another woman who shares the house with Lars and Niels dies too, and Niels begins showing the signs of the disease.

In the movie there are some subplots like the choosing of the right wine and food for the dinner and the correspondence between Niels and a girl from Atlantic City.


Release and awards[edit]

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.[2] It was nominated for Best Film at the Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Festival in 1988.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Epidemic currently holds a 33% 'rotten' rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on six reviews.[4]

The Village Voice called the film "among [Lars von Trier's] better and most revealing movies".[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lasagna, Roberto; Lena, Sandra (32 May 2003). Lars von Trier. Gremese Editore. p. 124. ISBN 978-88-7301-543-7. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Epidemic". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  3. ^ "1988 Fantasporto: Porto International Film Festival". indiepixfilms.com. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  4. ^ "Epidemic - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Hoberman, J. (11 November 2003). "Film - Page 1 - Movies - New York - Village Voice". villagevoice.com. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 

External links[edit]