Power, command and violence in von Trier’s Manderlay. A political and philosophical analysis of pseudo-democracies.

Sara Marino


Alabama, 1933. A caravan of limousines carrying gangsters arrives in Manderlay, a small village where slavery still exists as an institution. Mam (Lauren Bacall) rules the plantation assisted by her foreman Wilhelm (Danny Glover), a slave who believes his people are not ready for the responsibilities of freedom. Driving up to the gates of the plantation, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) declares that the slaves must be informed how to enjoy freedom and thus becoming good citizens. Drawing on a textual and visual analysis of Manderlay, the article explores how democracy arises from the exercise of violence and power, as well as the inability of Western societies to deal with the dogma of difference.  


von Trier, Manderlay, violence, power, democracy, citizenship

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2016.132


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