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How to make your audience suffer: melodrama, masochism and dead time in Lars von Trier's Dogville

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Both fans and critics of Lars von Trier’s work would likely agree with

    his capacity to make his audience suffer. This essay canvasses the devices through

    which the suffering of women in von Trier’s melodramas is rendered excruciating

    to watch. Drawing on Deleuze’s influential account of masochism, the first part of

    the essay discusses how von Trier’s film Dogville foregrounds the complicated

    relationship that suffering has with pleasure and power. The second part of the

    essay focuses on the temporal dynamics of melodrama and the creative ways in

    which Lars von Trier disturbs the rhythms of suffering on screen. In particular

    I argue that von Trier introduces intervals of ‘dead time’ that make the passage

    of time itself painful to the audience and that open up a larger cultural history

    of temporal disorder. This part of the essay looks back to von Trier’s early experiments

    with time in Psychomobile 1: The World Clock (2000) and forward to

    more recent innovative play with time and movement in Melancholia (2011) to

    make the case for rethinking the temporal dimensions of mediated suffering and

    the significance of time in the work of Lars von Trier.

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Evans, N. J. "How to make your audience suffer: melodrama, masochism and dead time in Lars von Trier's Dogville." Culture, Theory and Critique 55 .3 (2014): 365-382.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84912000803

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/1947

Number Of Pages


  • 17

Start Page


  • 365

End Page


  • 382

Volume


  • 55

Issue


  • 3

Abstract


  • Both fans and critics of Lars von Trier’s work would likely agree with

    his capacity to make his audience suffer. This essay canvasses the devices through

    which the suffering of women in von Trier’s melodramas is rendered excruciating

    to watch. Drawing on Deleuze’s influential account of masochism, the first part of

    the essay discusses how von Trier’s film Dogville foregrounds the complicated

    relationship that suffering has with pleasure and power. The second part of the

    essay focuses on the temporal dynamics of melodrama and the creative ways in

    which Lars von Trier disturbs the rhythms of suffering on screen. In particular

    I argue that von Trier introduces intervals of ‘dead time’ that make the passage

    of time itself painful to the audience and that open up a larger cultural history

    of temporal disorder. This part of the essay looks back to von Trier’s early experiments

    with time in Psychomobile 1: The World Clock (2000) and forward to

    more recent innovative play with time and movement in Melancholia (2011) to

    make the case for rethinking the temporal dimensions of mediated suffering and

    the significance of time in the work of Lars von Trier.

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Evans, N. J. "How to make your audience suffer: melodrama, masochism and dead time in Lars von Trier's Dogville." Culture, Theory and Critique 55 .3 (2014): 365-382.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84912000803

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/1947

Number Of Pages


  • 17

Start Page


  • 365

End Page


  • 382

Volume


  • 55

Issue


  • 3