Director: Lars von Trier (Zentropa, The Kingdom, Breaking the Waves)


Björk - Selma Jezkova
Catherine Deneuve - Kathy
David Morse - Bill
Peter Stormare - Jeff
Joel Grey - Oldrich Novy
Cara Seymour - Linda Houston
Vladica Kostic - Gene Yeskova
Jean-Marc Barr - Norman
Vincent Paterson - Samuel
Siobhan Fallon - Brenda
Zeljko Ivanek - District Attorney
Udo Kier - Dr. Porkorny
Jens Albinus - Morty
Reathel Bean - Judge

MPAA Rating: R

Runtime: 140 Minutes

Genres: musical, melodrama, drama, tragedy

Plot Synopsis:

Pop singer Björk stars as east European immigrant Selma, who works in a pressing plant in Washington state. Selma struggles to support herself and her son Gene, working overtime and carding pins in what time is left. Despite the additional trouble of her son's truancy, her life is not unbearable. An insatiable fan of musicals, she has just won the starring role in a local production of The Sound of Music and is tenatively exploring the possibility of romance with Jeff, a local man who waits for hours in the parking lot outside the factory to offer her a ride home. Her landlord Bill, rapidly falling into debt because of his shopaholic wife, confides in her his money problems. Embarassed and with pity toward her friend, she shares her dark secret: she has a genetic disorder which is causing her eyesight to fail- she will be completely blind within several months. What's worse, the disorder has been passed on to her son, who must recieve an operation before his thirteenth birthday or he too will suffer Selma's fate. Wracked with a sense of guilt, Selma has saved almost $2,000 dollars for the operation, hiding it in a candy tin in her kitchen. But when her failing eyesight and trust in Bill lead to the sudden disappearance of her savings, she confronts him. Her tragic misadventures are periodically interrupted by lavish song and dance numbers that serve as a harsh counterpoint to her drab and frightening everyday life.


Reviews for Dancer in the Dark were extremely black and white. Some reviewers hated the movie's melodrama and the emotional manipulation of its stark and brutal portrayal of Selma's trials, while others loved it. True, the plot drags initially, and it's runtime of almost two and a half hours feels a bit long- but the last hour and a half of the movie grab the viewer by the throat, and it would take a truly cold-hearted viewer not to be touched by Björk's heartfelt acting and her character's plight. The last five minutes of the movie may be the most emotionally charged climax ever seen in a movie. The cinematography itself is beautiful. Shot entirely in digital, the majoritiy of the movie is in washed-out color which switches into vibrant, super-saturated hues during the musical sequences. Although it runs a bit long and blatantly yanks the viewer's heartstrings, Dancer in the Dark is an ultimately fulfilling and beautiful movie. It should be highly reccomended for its amazing musical sequences, stirring score, and talented acting.


Academy Awards 2000

Best Song (nom) - Lars von Trier
Best Song (nom) - Björk
Best Song (nom) - Sjon Sigurdsson
Cannes Film Festival 2000
Best Female Performance (win) - Björk
Palme D'or (win)
European Film Awards 2000
Best European Actress (win) - Bjork
Best European Film (win)
People's Choice Award: Best Actress (win) - Bjork
People's Choice Award: Best Director (win) - Lars von Trier
French Academy of Cinema 2000
Best Foreign Film (nom)
Golden Globe Awards 2000
Best Actress - Drama (nom) - Björk
Best Original Song (nom) - Sjon Sigurdsson
Best Original Song (nom) - Lars von Trier
National Board of Review 2000
#10 Film of the Year (win) Best Musical Performance (win) - Bjork

Selmasongs: The Soundtrack to Dancer in the Dark

Björk's superb sountrack to Dancer in the Dark melds her quirky electronic dance-pop with sweeping orchestral sounds. The Overture, (which sounds like it should be accompanied by an aerial view of rolling, snow-topped Cascade mountains) is introduced in the movie with an abstract depiction of crimson flowers. "Cvalda" is the product of Selma's overactive on the job imagination, using industrial clicks and whirrs as its percussive background (watching the movie after hearing this song is a surreal experience. During every factory sequence you expect the song to begin.). "I've Seen It All" similarly uses the sound of a train engine as its cue, and replaces the movie's Jeff with Thom Yorke's (vastly superior) vocals. In his duet with Björk, the two argue over the significance of sight, with Selma rationalizing her loss of sight by claiming that there is nothing else for her to see. "Scatterheart" is a reworking of the movie's pivotal musical sequence, changed into a lullaby to Gene so as not to reveal the plot of the movie. "In the Musicals" combines two similar sequences from the movie and gives Björk all of the vocals. "107 Steps," a suspenseful experience in the movie, suffers when removed from context, but still delivers musically. "New World," the final song on the soundtrack, actually accompanies the credits of the movie. Its effect after the movie's climax is transcendental and devastating, and it is a highlight of the record on its own merits.


  1. Overture - (Arranged by Vincent Mendoza) - (3:38)
  2. Cvalda - (Performed by Björk and Catherine Denevue) - (4:48)
  3. I've Seen It All - (Performed by Björk and Thom Yorke) - (5:29)
  4. Scatterheart - (6:39)
  5. In The Musicals - (4:41)
  6. 107 Steps - (Performed by Björk and Siobhan Fallon) - (2:36)
  7. New World - (4:23)

(Tracks 2 & 5 written by Björk, Mark Bell, Sjon Sigurdsson, and Lars von Trier. Tracks 3, 4, 6, & 7 written by Björk, Sjon Sigurdsson, and von Trier. All tracks writting by Björk.)