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Europa

"logic and common sense are one thing and knowledge and
insight something else" (Lumholdt 80).
Lars von Trier in interview with Michael Tapper in 1990

Points of Reflection

Lars von Trier's Europa (1991)

1.  In his early work, von Trier focuses were closely on technical effects in hopes of creating “some moods and some images, meant to live their own lives” (Lumholdt 8).  In fact, he unabashedly admits that he has been trying to move “[away] from the text towards the image” (Lumholdt 6).  Does the film Europa appear to be more preoccupied w/ images and moods than with character and story?

2. is there rhyme or reason to the characters’ quick shifts between the German and English languages?

3. when Leopold  asks if Pater is still in contact w/ Katharina/Kat, Pater dodges his question, then suggests he attend the midnight mass at St. Christopher’s that evening (1:07).  There, Leopold watches Katharina take the Eucharist.  Why is it important to Pater that Leopold see this (1:07-1:09)?

4. Pater reappears at Christmas to speak w/ Leopold about Katharina’s break from the Werewolfs, and notes that Max Harmann—who had collaborated with the Americans—received threatening letters.  Pater implies that these letters drove Max to suicide (1:06-1:07).  Later, Leopold expresses to Katharina his disbelief that such letters could have driven Max to take his own life and Katharina suggests that he felt guilt for having helped to transport Jews in cattle trains to concentration camps.  Says it ended up all being too absurd (1:13-14).  Reconsider the earlier suicide scene.  Is it clear what prompts Max’s violent actions?  Does the film encourage us to adopt either Pater’s or Katharina’s perspective?

5. following Kate’s accusation that Leo’s passive neutrality is a crime (1:36:30), Leo gets upset at the idea that everyone’s been “screwing” him every since he arrived in Germany.  When the examiner suggests that he apologize to every passenger for his odd behavior (1:38), Leo really grows even angrier and takes a series of decisive actions up through the film’s conclusion (1:39-1:42).  Why does Leo take these actions (particularly the last one), and does his behavior redeem him—does it align him decisively with one side of the conflict or the other?  What of the idealism he has carried with him the last three months—does he lose or retain it in the film’s final moments?


The Hunters in the Snow
"Spain" (1938)
oil on canvas
Salvador Dalí


Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu