Europa (film)

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Europa (film).jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Lars von Trier
Produced by Peter Aalbæk Jensen
Bo Christensen
Written by Lars von Trier
Niels Vørsel
Starring Jean-Marc Barr
Barbara Sukowa
Ernst-Hugo Järegård
Eddie Constantine
Erik Mørk
Henning Jensen
Music by Joachim Holbek
Cinematography Henning Bendtsen
Edward Klosinski
Jean-Paul Meurisse
Edited by Hervé Schneid
Distributed by Nordisk Film
Release dates 12 May 1991 (premiere at Cannes)
22 June 1991 (Germany)
16 August 1991 (Denmark)[1]
22 May 1992 (USA)
2 July 1992 (Australia)
Running time 113 min.[2]
Country Denmark
Language English and German

Europa (1991) is a film directed by Lars von Trier. It is von Trier's third theatrical feature film and was the final film in his Europa trilogy following The Element of Crime (1984) and Epidemic (1987).

Europa was released as Zentropa in North America to avoid confusion with Europa Europa (1990). Co-written by von Trier and Niels Vørsel, it tells the story of a young, idealistic American who hopes to "show some kindness" to the German people soon after the end of World War II. In US-occupied Germany, he takes on work as a sleeping car conductor for the Zentropa railway network, falls in love with a femme fatale, and becomes embroiled in a pro-Nazi terrorist conspiracy.

The film features an international cast, including the French-American Jean-Marc Barr, Germans Barbara Sukowa and Udo Kier, expatriate American Eddie Constantine, and the Swedes Max von Sydow and Ernst-Hugo Järegård.

Europa was influenced by Franz Kafka's Amerika, and the name of the film was chosen "as an echo" of that novel.[3]



Screenshot illustrating the film's use of black and white images mixed with colour, and of characters interacting with back projections

Europa employs an experimental style of cinema; combining largely black and white visuals with occasional intrusions of colour having actors interact with rear-projected footage, and layering different images over one another to surreal effect. The voice-over narration uses an unconventional second-person narrative imitative of a hypnotist (e.g. "On the count of ten, you will be in Europa.").

The film's characters, music, dialogue, and plot are self-consciously melodramatic and ironically imitative of film noir conventions.



  • In Poland (exteriors)
    • Chojna Cathedral (Marienkirche)
    • Chojna Roundhouse
  • In Denmark
    • Nordisk Film studios, Copenhagen
    • Copenhagen Dansk Hydraulisk Institut

Von Trier's production company, Zentropa Entertainments, is named after the sinister railway network featured in this film, which is in turn named after the real-life train company Mitropa.



The film won three awards at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival (Best Artistic Contribution, Jury Prize, and Technical Grand Prize).[4] Upon realizing that he had not won the Palme d'Or, von Trier gave the judges the finger and stormed out of the venue.[5]

Home media[edit]

The Criterion Collection released the film on DVD in 2008. The package contained several documentaries on the film and audio commentary from von Trier.


  1. ^ Stevenson, Jack (2002). Lars von Trier. British Film Institute. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-85170-902-4. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Lasagna, Roberto; Lena, Sandra (32 May 2003). Lars von Trier. Gremese Editore. p. 123. ISBN 978-88-7301-543-7. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  3. ^ Lars Von Trier: Interviews, pp. 82-83
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Europa". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  5. ^ "Zentropa". Chicago Sun-Times. 

External links[edit]