Film as Phantasm: Dogville’s Cinematic Re-evaluation of Values

In The Films of Lars von Trier and Philosophy: Provocations and Engagements. London, UK: pp. 19 - 35 (2019)
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Abstract

This paper interprets von Trier’s Dogville as a suspension of belief that provokes a re-evaluation of contemporary moral values. Reading Dogville through the Stoic concept of phantasms and Nietzsche’s perspectivism, I analyze the plot and visual techniques as revealing how we form, evaluate, and re-evaluate our beliefs based on changing impressions and shifting perspectives. The philosophy of the Stoics and Nietzsche and the visual techniques of Dogville demonstrate that the recognition of the artificiality of appearances serves a moral purpose by forcing us to examine our beliefs more deeply. In this way, von Trier presents film as a powerful art form for suspending and evaluating how we see and understand the world.

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Rebecca Longtin
State University of New York, New Paltz

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