Zentropa (Europa)

1992

Zentropa (Europa)

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

80%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 15

89%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,181
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Movie Info

Europa (retitled Zentropa for the American release) is an hallucinatory Danish film set in postwar Germany. Jean-Marc Barr plays a young German who aspires for a job as a street conductor. But this is no mere "Joe Job;" Barr's adventures on the line are designed as a metaphor for the emergence of the "New Europe" following the war. Barbara Sukowa costars as the daughter of a railroad magnate--and possible Nazi sympathizer. Many of the special-effects sequences are computer enhanced, but even the "live" scenes have an unsettling, surreal quality to them (colors changing abruptly, backgrounds shifting without warning, etc.) This experimental film left some viewers confused, which may be why English-language prints of Zentropa are narrated by Max Von Sydow.

Cast

Jean-Marc Barr
as Leopold Kessler
Barbara Sukowa
as Katharina Hartmann
Udo Kier
as Lawrence Hartmann
Ernst-Hugo Järegård
as Uncle Kessler
Erik Mork
as Father
Jorgen Reenberg
as Max Hartmann
Eddie Constantine
as Colonel Harris
Max von Sydow
as Narrator
Holger Perfort
as Mr. Ravenstein
Anne Werner Thomsen
as Mrs. Ravenstein
Janos Hersko
as Jewish Man
Baard Owe
as Man with Papers
Leif Magnusson
as Doctor Magnus
Vera Gebuhr
as Depot Assistant
Else Petersen
as Old Female Assistant
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Critic Reviews for Zentropa (Europa)

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Zentropa (Europa)

  • Jun 30, 2014
    Stylish and smart, Europa is a neo noir film about one naive man's struggle to maintain his dream while balancing the powerful figures around him whom are trying to control him for their own benefit in the post war Germany. It has its moments, but mostly the film relied on the artistic design and cinematography to keep me awake. I believe the film inspired sin city in terms of using a similar tone of lighting editing. The acting was pretty average and the protagonist was really unlikeable, I got confused as to how Lars actually gave him his directions. The hallucination-like scenes were beautiful. Overall not one of Lars' best films but not the worst either.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • May 07, 2014
    Wow, they hardly wasted any time in coming out with a prequel to 1990s "Europa Europa" and telling the grand tale of what happened before the second "Europa". That was lame, I know, but that might just be me being an ignorant American, because they released this film as "Zentropa" over here in the States so that folks didn't confuse it with "Europa Europa", something that ought to be easier to do than confusing this film with "The Element of Crime" or "Epidemic". Lars von Trier sure does love making up trilogies, because this is supposed to be the big capper to the "Europa" trilogy, and about the only major thing this series has in common is a placement somewhere in Europe. I'd sarcastically call that a stretch for von Trier, seeing as how he's so European that he's Danish, but looking at the Nazi jokes he made at 2011's Cannes, he must not be too self-respecting of a European, because that's something you should know to be careful with in Europe. Jeez, I'm just thinking that it's a good that he did this film 20 years before making those comments, because there is a lot of seemingly mixed emotions towards Nazism being portrayed here, or at least I think there is. Von Trier does really seem to be into painting anyone from Jews to Nazis like dirtbags, so it's hard to figure out who he sympathizes with, which is okay with me, I guess, so long as he keeps making decent films. Well, I'll at least settle for something that's better than "Epidemic", kind of like this film, which would be much better if it wasn't for some issues extending beyond confusing titles. There are plenty of distancing attributes to the characters in this minimalist and ostensibly character-driven drama, - from certain unlikable traits to reasonably believable, but still awkward alternating between English and German during dialogue - but it's an underexploration of attributes that is arguably most disconcerting, convoluting characterization by underdeveloping more than a few of the many characters who should drive substance. Such characterization issues, of course, reflect the film's placement of style over substance, which is annoying enough when you take out of account an unevenness in style, which finds the film going all about the place, trying to decide on the degree to which it takes liberties with its artistic license. Inconsistency in style stands, and matters are made more disconcerting by stylistic heights which momentarily and completely distance you from substance in a feat of artistic ambition that aims to bring some uniqueness and inspiration to a narrative of such limited consequence. Perhaps the subject matter is worthy, but the plot behind this film itself is just way too talky and minimalist, despite some convoluted layers, and its interpretation further retards momentum through dialogue and set pieces which are more draggy and repetitious than they ought to be. Of course, momentum is most stiffened within Lars von Trier's efforts, not as co-screenwriter, but as a director whose heights in directorial bite punctuate a consistent overt thoughtfulness that was never to be graced with too much material to draw upon, and therefore bores. The film is dull, plain and simple, perhaps not as much as the cold and largely unrewarding "Epidemic", but enough to betray potential that is limited enough to begin with, until the final product collapses as underwhelming, maybe even forgettable. With all that said, the film should hold enough of your attention to not squander your investment, especially if investment is placed in aesthetic value. Like plenty of Lars von Trier's efforts, this film boasts a visual style which is unique and captivating, nailing a 1940s filming style to immerse you in the time, and alternating between black-and-white and color in a manner that at least keeps consistent with taste in haunting warmth in lighting. The dynamicity of the film's visual style is debatable, but if nothing else is caught by this film through and through, it's your eyes, as it looks so unique and distinguished that it all but compensates for the familiarity of the story, whose thinness isn't exactly helped by an overt attention to style. No matter how much talking drives it, there's not a whole lot to talk about with this film's plot, but the themes, on the other hand, carry a lot of valuable weight, betrayed and brought to life by a thin and undercooked plot which is still meaty enough to establish weight, maybe even intriguing characterization. Well, as character-driven as this drama seems to be on paper, the characters are generally not too thickly drawn, although they are well-portrayed, for although acting material is, of course, limited by von Trier's and Niels Vørsel's minimalist scripting, most everyone is convincing enough in his or her subtle dramatic range to sell some of the depths of this ensemble piece with grace. Style draws on aesthetic value, whereas the performances draw on dramatic value, but the acting is still not quite outstanding, like many aspects in the film beyond the artistry, which still has plenty of questionable elements that threaten the final product with mediocrity. Von Trier ultimately saves the film from slipping to such a point, as director, because even though his thoughtfulness as storyteller doesn't have enough material to draw upon with intrigue, resulting in dull spells, when plot does, in fact, thicken, von Trier's plays on Joachim Holbek's soaringly tasteful score, haunting visuals, and sheer naturalist intimacy immerse, with tension, if not resonance. The film is quite compelling at times, and while such times are reached along a messy path, there's enough engagement value throughout the final product to make it stylistically and dramatically decent, if improvable. Overall, characterization gets to be questionable, as does style, in addition to draggy pacing and cold atmospherics which bland an already thin narrative to the point of firm underwhelmingness, well-challenged by exceptional style and promising substance, done enough justice by convincing performances and often effective direction to make Lars von Trier's "Europa", or, for us ignorant Americans, "Zentropa", a fair affair that does only so much as an art moral drama, but enough to get by. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2011
    Europa, is a solid and moody neo-noir film in which Lars von Trier utilizes several different and unique techniques in order to portray his postwar Germany and the events in an atmospheric and dark sense. I really enjoyed and appreciated the use of both color as well as B&W and the many other techniques used, but at times it felt exhaustive in a sense. The story while dark is also boldly portrayed and is ultimately a case in which we see how hard a personal can be pushed before they lose sense and purpose of themselves. While not for everyone, anyone who appreciates form and technique in film will be dazzled at what they see and more importantly, express.
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 02, 2011
    8.7/10 "Europa", originally called "Zentropa", is Lars Von Trier's concluding film in his Europa Trilogy. The first film was "The Element of Crime", which I saw and loved; and the middle child was "Epidemic", which I haven't bothered seeing. Yet. I'm a proud supporter of Lars Von Trier, and I will see any film that he chooses to make or be involved in. This is because I have faith in a man as smart as himself; and he always delivers something new. He has come a long way, from making grade-C pornography to stuff like this. I imagine that he still likes the side of him that can produce pornography; but I'm glad he's moved on and made movies as good as "The Element of Crime" or even this. "Europa" is an experience, much like Von Trier's debut film. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it lost the Palme d'Or, causing Von Trier to angrily flick off the judges. I imagine he would have done the same thing if it had won the award. Von Trier invites and even enjoys criticism, and he's made a name for himself even outside of his outlandish, surreal, sometimes explicit films. But I like him anyways, and he will always be influential to whatever work I carry out, through film, in the near future. I'm getting off task. The story is what I should be talking about by now, isn't it? I guess, but you won't always get what you expect, and if you expect anything out of "Europa" when you decide to watch it, then my friend, you're doomed. Leo (Jean-Marc Barr), and American, moves to Germany to find work and show the Germans that not all Americans are sneaky, sleazy liars. He then begins work as a sleeping-car-conductor for the Zentropa railway. It is there that he meets the lovely young woman, Kat (Barbara Sukowa), who seduces and manipulates him. And manipulation itself plays a large role in the film's central plot. Leo is soon accidentally drawn into a terrorist conspiracy of some sort. The enemy has planted a bomb in one of the trains that goes through Leo's railway. He has been tricked. And now, he must stop what he unknowingly started. I guess I admire and appreciate the story that is told here. It is existent, but its own confusion may be why it didn't earn Von Trier that Palme d'Or for its year at Cannes. As with EVERY SINGLE OTHER Lars Von Trier film, it's not for everyone. It requires a certain audience. It thrills and fascinates with the look of each shot; and it is lovingly crafted. Some might find it just "good". Some might find it just "meh". And some might even hate it. However, I know that I'm not alone when I say that it's a fascinating work of art. Von Trier has never been pretentious or overly-indulgent to me and he never will be. He's not pretending to be an artist; he is one. The film is stylized skillfully to feel like a more modern noir film, and it definitely works miraculously. I am a believer that black-and-white will always be king, and I guess...so does Lars Von Trier. His film is indeed accompanied by mostly black-and-white visuals, with occasional colors showing up to give the film its surrealism. But then again, we know Von Trier well; and we understand that he also sets up his shots carefully so that he can make them count. He understands all too well that people will see "Europa" for the sake of its mere existence, but there's really no other reason other than that to pursue it. I can't say I recommend it, at least not to everyone, but if you are like me, and you see Von Trier as a filmmaker that deserves attention for his efforts, then it's most-definitely a must-see movie.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer

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