Epidemic (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Epidemic FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLars von Trier
Written byLars von Trier
Niels Vørsel
Produced byJacob Eriksen
StarringLars von Trier
Niels Vørsel
CinematographyHenning Bendtsen
Edited byThomas Kragh
Music byPeter Bach
Distributed byAngel Films
Release date
  • 11 September 1987 (1987-09-11)
Running time
106 minutes[1]

Epidemic is a 1987 Danish horror art film directed by Lars von Trier; it is the second installment of Trier's Europa trilogy, following The Element of Crime (1984) and succeeded by Europa (1991).

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


The film is divided into five days. On the first day the protagonists, screenwriters Lars and Niels lose the only copy of a film 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 who describes the Allied bombing of Cologne during the Second World War.

After the trip, Niels goes to a hospital where he undergoes a minor surgical procedure and while there tells Lars to go to see Palle, a pathologist who is performing an autopsy on 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 film, that Mesmer and his medical kit have spread the disease. The producer does not like the short twelve-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.


  • Lars von Trier as himself / Dr. Mesmer
  • Niels Vørsel as himself
  • Allan De Waal
  • Ole Ernst
  • Michael Gelting
  • Colin Gilder
  • Svend Ali Hamann as himself
  • Claes Kastholm Hansen as himself
  • Ib Hansen
  • Anja Hemmingsen
  • Kirsten Hemmingsen
  • Cæcilia Holbek
  • Gert Holbek
  • Udo Kier as himself
  • Jørgen Christian Krüff
  • Jan Kornum Larsen
  • Gitte Lind as herself


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]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 33%, based on 6 reviews, with an average rating of 5.4/10.[4] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 66 out of 100, based on 4 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5]

Robert K. Elder of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 3 out of 4, and wrote "Will never be confused with von Trier's great films. But it is an intriguing introduction to his later cinematic obsessions."[6] The Village Voice called the film "among [Lars von Trier's] better and most revealing movies".[7] Chicago Reader gave the film 3 out of 5, and stated "Aside from the Pirandellian games and some interplay of different film stocks there isn't much going on here, though von Trier rewards the patient with a strange and horrifying climax."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lasagna, Roberto; Lena, Sandra (12 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. Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
  3. ^ "1988 Fantasporto: Porto International Film Festival". indiepixfilms.com. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Epidemic - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Epidemic". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2004. Retrieved 29 January 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Hoberman, J. (11 November 2003). "Film - Page 1 - Movies - New York - Village Voice". villagevoice.com. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Epidemic". 13 February 2004.

External links[edit]