Written by Mich Medvedoff
Before we wore clothes, before we drank milk, before we shaved… we told stories. And the same stories continue to circulate and confront us. Like a cinematic Tootsie Roll pop, there is sometimes a hidden story inside the very movie you are watching.
HIDDEN STORY BEHIND DOGVILLE
Dogville. A quiet little town not far from here…
It’s a town where there are no walls, no roofs, and no doors. It can be anywhere and everywhere. Explains director Lars von Trier, “evil can arise anywhere, as long as the situation is right.”
What Happens in Dogville?
Grace is on the run from the mob. Scared and vulnerable, she stumbles down from the mountaintop into isolated Dogville. After meeting the town know-it-all, Tom, she agrees her presence brings considerable risk to the natives. Perhaps her taking refuge there might even invite mob activity. But the town can’t turn the girl away, so she is permitted to stay on one condition: that she make herself useful.
At first, she is celebrated by the town for her wondrous work ethic. But soon after, Grace seems to bring out the worst in the people of Dogville as she goes from day laborer to sex slave.
So what is the hidden story of Lars von Trier’s DOGVILLE? I won’t beat around the bush, let’s get right to it. DOGVILLE is THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY.
Sparsely dressed stage. Minimal props and sets. Armed gunmen. A sarcastic, god-like narrator. If you’re going, “huh?” just think about it: a “novelty” from the big city drops in on a tribe of simple people. The new object, which cannot be shared equally, transforms what once were uncomplicated lives and gentle natures into something… evil.
In GODS, before the Coca-Cola bottle fell from the sky, the !Kung bushmen believed the Gods provided for all of their needs. Everything in their corner of the world was plentiful and useful: the tubers, the tall grasses, and even the cobra snakes (tastes like chicken). When the bottle came on the scene it had many uses: curing snake skin, musical instrument, and tuber smasher. But for the first time, here was an object that must be shared. The “evil thing” inspired anger, jealousy, and violence among the peaceful !Kung.
Grace, played by Nicole Kidman is the Coca-Cola bottle in the GODS MUST BE CRAZY.
Leaf blowers, electric can openers, the Apple TV remote (how does that work anyway) … how many times has a new technology been hailed as The. Best. Thing. Ever. just before we realize the negatives may cancel out the positives?
It often isn’t until a novel object or star drops from the sky that we begin to suspect that the Gods must be crazy…
Why do we sit on the edge of our seat in movies that explore how modernity corrupts humanity? Eternal Sunshine, Nutty Professor, Gremlins – these are all “out of the bottle” flicks where a new object, potion, or technology breaks down relationships and corrupts members of the group.
Perhaps because deep down, we know that something as innocuous as an empty bottle, or a lost and pretty girl named Grace, has the power to bring a civilization down to its knees. And maybe, these films are here to teach us how to recognize those desirous objects before we lose our soul.
Enjoy the hidden story of Dogville? Check out more hidden stories behind favorite and obscure films alike in our Hidden Story headquarters.