Monday, October 7, 2013
Dogville: Setting and Theme
Dogville, directed by Lars von Trier in 2003, is a dark film focusing on the immorality and complexity of all people and situations. Utilizing a unique setting style, the director chose to have the set be completely staged on a sound stage. There are no walls, nor completely furnished rooms- everything is to the bare minimum. Not only does this desolate and scarce setting reflect the poverty and isolation of the town and people of Dogville, but it additionally opens up opportunities to shed light on the strange dynamics of the town: although everyone has the ability to know everything about everyone, the people choose to remain ignorant to the injustices of immorality directed towards Grace as they arise.
Upon the first instance of Grace being raped, we see wide shots of the whole town, with poor Grace in the background of the shot helplessly being taken advantaged of. Without the openness of the set, we would not get this same effect. For instance, Tom Edison is right outside the door from where Grace lays- we see them both in the same shot- but he is unaware of her state of being. It is a sad moment, but it reflects the mindset of the people of Dogville: they are obscuring their own sight of being aware of the way they behave and the things that are happening around them (despite it being quite morally obvious).
Because they are confined only to their town, the people of Dogville are living in a warped reality of their own "morals" and values. This is reflected in the use of a limited set. By keeping us entrapped in this one soundstage we are able to suspend our disbelief and indulge in the idea that this is how their world is. When Grace tries to escape our longing to have a glimpse of the greater world grows and our curiosity becomes uncontrollable, only for her to be brought right back to Dogville. Upon seeing the limited and scarce town of Dogville again, the sense of entrapment is amped up.