Dogville: A Movie Review

Acting class. The actor and the scene. Script. Or not. Mime. Gibberish. Make believe. A wise director, in response to an actor’s complaint about lack of motivation, said, “it’s all make believe.”

In the best acting, the more “make believe” the presentation, the more real. A great play demands that you strip the stage of technology and present truth in angry, cold, black and white, two-dimensional reality. Truth shines through, unencumbered by sets and lights.

The actor and the scene.


Or not.

Dogville is the only movie I’ve ever seen that presents itself as bare and pure as the best theatre. It’s the story of a beautiful girl who runs away from gangsters and hides out in small, wholesome mining town in Colorado. Dogville is a town that’s so open it even has a couple of token negroes, which was rare in the 1930s when the movie is set.

But the town realizes, slowly, that the girl’s life depends on their protection. One by one, their kindness and hospitality turns a little greedy. If only the people of Dogville knew the whole story of the girl they protected and exploited.

This is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Rent Dogville today. Watch it with grown ups, only. It’s not appropriate for the young. If you want the experience of a stage play that matches the intensity and honesty of Dogville, read “The Visit” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1956).