Political Claustrophobia in Lars von Trier’s Europa and America Trilogies





Lars von Trier, Europe Trilogy, America Trilogy, The Element of Crime, Epidemic, Europa, Dogville, Manderlay, Political claustrophobia, Humanism, Liberal reformism, Slavery


This essay aims to trace the specific kind of political pessimism, that can be termed ‘political claustrophobia’ underlying the filmography of the Danish director Lars von Trier. Elements of this worldview are traced by analyzing two clusters of films categorized under Europa and America trilogies; namely, The Element of Crime, Epidemic, Europa, Dogville and Manderlay. Trier portrays a particularly bleak picture of the European civilization in the aftermath of the II World War. An equally claustrophobic outlook also characterizes his depiction of the life and relationships in American small towns during the 1930s. In both settings, attempts at reform and change are thwarted by entrenched social reality; leading the audience to the conclusion that there can be no political outside to the existing world.

Author Biography

Özlem Denli, İstanbul Gedik University

Department of Political Science and Public Administration


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How to Cite

Denli, Özlem. (2018). Political Claustrophobia in Lars von Trier’s Europa and America Trilogies. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 7(1), 225–237. https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2018.218