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The Element of Crime

Part of the Retrospective: The Future Is History Strand

Lars von Trier

  • 15

  • 104 mins

  • 1984

  • Denmark

  • English, Arabic

Michael Elphick, Esmond Knight, Me Me Lai, Jerold Wells, Ahmed El Shenawi

  • Director of Photography: Tom Elling

  • Editor: Tómas Gislason

  • Produced by: Per Holst

  • Music: Bo Holten

  • Screenplay by: Lars von Trier, Niels Vørsel

  • Production Designer: Peter Hølmark

Director Bio

Lars von Trier

Director Bio

Lars von Trier (b. 1956) is a Danish film director and screenwriter. He received the Palme d'Or for Dancer in the Dark, the Prix du Jury for Europa, and the Technical Grand Prize for The Element of Crime and Europa at the Cannes Film Festival. His political and humanitarian work was honored in 2004 with the Cinema for Peace awareness award.


The first instalment of his Europa trilogy, also including Epidemic (1987) and Europa (1991), Lars von Trier’s atmospheric feature debut The Element of Crime follows an unconventional detective, played by veteran British actor Michael Elphick, as he hunts a serial killer through a dystopian post-World War III Europe. Shot with sodium lighting creating a sepia-like tone, Von Trier’s dark, dream-like vision of the future is a hybrid of film noir, psychological thriller and science fiction, with influences including Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979).

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