6.8/10
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The Element of Crime (1984)

Forbrydelsens element (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 14 May 1984 (Denmark)
A cop in a dystopian Europe investigates a serial killings suspect using controversial methods written by his now disgraced former mentor.

Director:

Lars von Trier (as Lars Von Trier)

Writers:

Niels Vørsel, William Quarshie (dialogue translation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
12 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Elphick ... Fisher
Esmond Knight ... Osborne
Me Me Lai ... Kim (as Meme Lai)
Jerold Wells ... Kramer
Ahmed El Shenawi Ahmed El Shenawi ... Therapist
Astrid Henning-Jensen Astrid Henning-Jensen ... House Keeper
János Herskó ... Coroner (as Janos Hersko)
Stig Larsson ... Coroner's Assistant
Harry Harper Harry Harper ... Portier 1
Roman Moszkowicz Roman Moszkowicz ... Portier 2
Lars von Trier ... Schmuck of Ages (as Lars Von Trier)
Frederik Casby Frederik Casby ... White Policeman
Duke Addabayo Duke Addabayo ... Black Policeman
Jon Bang Carlsen Jon Bang Carlsen ... Angry Policeman (as Jon Bang-Carlsen)
Leif Magnusson Leif Magnusson ... Hotel Guest
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Storyline

Fisher, an ex-cop, returns to his old beat somewhere in northern Europe after a thirteen-year hiatus in Cairo. His former mentor and role model, author of a treatise called "The Element of Crime", asks him to solve a series of murders involving lottery ticket sellers. Guided by the theories put forth in the book, Fischer retraces the steps of a suspect, Harry Grey, as recorded in a three-year-old police surveillance report. Written by Eddi Sommer <eddi@gmd.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Denmark

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

14 May 1984 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

The Element of Crime See more »

Filming Locations:

Denmark See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #80. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Therapist: [to Fisher] Fantasy is OK, but my job to keep you on the right track. We are after the facts. You seem to return to Cairo and me whenever you have a problem. Two months ago you left Cairo, your wife, everything for a police job in Europe. Now you are back haunted by headaches. If you want me to help you get rid of these headaches, we must go back two months in the time. Back to where it all started. All I know... Europe has become an obsession for you.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Anecdotes from 'Element of Crime' (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Der Letzte Tourist in Europa
By Mogens Dam, Henrik Blichmann
Translated by Waltraut Andersen
Sung by Sonja Kehler
See more »

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User Reviews

"The Silence of the Lambs" meets "Delicatessen"

Lars Von Trier's feature début is a stylish, extremely bizarre and intriguing tapestry about an ex-cop (Michael Elphick) who obsessively pursues a serial killer. Playing with different film genres and supported by a fantastic production design, "The Element of Crime" was very different from what I expected, but not in a bad way. This is the first film in Lars' 'Europe trilogy', followed by "Epidemic" (1987) and "Zentropa" (1991). Influenced by Fritz Lang, Terry Gilliam and many others, the film also has a voice of its own (Von Trier's raging verve); I'd call it "The Silence of the Lambs" meets "Delicatessen", so you can have an idea of how bizarre it is. If that sounds interesting to you, you should check it; even if you're not into the likes of "Dogville" or "Breaking the Waves", you may still appreciate it. Interesting for Von Trier fans and admirers of puzzles alike. 8/10.


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