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‘It’s Been Edifying, Don’t You Say?’: The Dialectic of Evil in Lars von Trier’s Dogville 
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.
2011 (English)In: Constructing Good and Evil / [ed] Laura Torres Zuñiga, Isabel Mª Andrés Cuevas, Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press , 2011, 1, 127-134 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The article is an attempt to show that Lars von Trier’s film Dogville (2003) may be understood as an effort to break down the pact of goodness between the viewer and the film. Every work of art, the author argues, implies a silent contract between the subject (the viewer, reader, etc.) and the object (the film, book, etc.), saying that no matter how horrible the story depicted is, the aesthetic experience is ethically edifying to the subject. Drawing on the French philosopher Alain Badiou, the author contends that this implicit ethics is reactive and nihilist: the goodness of art depends on a more fundamental idea of evil. The discussion circulates primarily around a crucial moment in the end of the film, when the whole setting is turned around, and the merciful victim becomes a cold blooded executioner. One way to understand this moment is to say that von Trier rips the ethical contract, with a very confusing result. What von Trier tells us is, in a way, that we’re all stuck in a rudimentary fiction of goodness, which is kept up by contrasting narratives of evil. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press , 2011, 1. 127-134 p.
, At the Interface
Keyword [en]
Lars von Trier, Alain Badiou, evil, nihilism, idealism, materialism, fiction
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-45162ISBN: 978-1-904710-46-2OAI: diva2:426463
Available from: 2011-06-23 Created: 2011-06-23 Last updated: 2011-06-28Bibliographically approved

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