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Film / The Idiots

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Idioterne, released internationally as The Idiots, is a 1998 Danish film written and directed by the ever-infamous Lars von Trier. The film was the second officially released Dogme '95 film after Thomas Vinterberg's The Celebration.

The story opens with a shy woman, Karen (Bodil Jørgensen), sitting in a fancy restaraunt. Suddenly, the establishment is disturbed by the behaviour of two apparently mentally ill men. The men (and their carer) are promptly asked to leave, but on the way out, one of the men notices Karen and decides to hold her hand, forcing the timid lady to go with them. Upon leaving however, it is revealed that the two men aren't mentally handicapped at all. They were just faking it, seemingly For the Lulz.

Black Hilarity Ensues as Karen and ourselves are introduced to a larger group of "idiots" or "spassers" and their lives in a series of episodes of varying moods.

This film provides examples of:

  • Black Comedy: Some of the darkest comedy you will ever see.
  • Break the Cutie: The film is the second entry in von Trier's "Golden Hearts" Trilogy (between Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark), focusing on this trope. In this case, this happens to Karen, the nicest of the "spassers". In the final scene of the movie, it is revealed she has lost her young baby, has been missing for two weeks, and is treated with cold indifference by her family. Even her husband slaps her when she tries to embrace her "inner idiot" in front of him.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Stoffer tries to expose the town of Sollerod as one of these. The citizens end up almost proving him right by putting their own discomforts above being charitable. Of course, when faced with a similar challenge, Stoffer ends up looking like a Hypocrite.
  • Creator Cameo: Lars von Trier appears in an uncredited role as the interviewer/officer/therapist talking to the idiots throughout the film.
  • Cringe Comedy: The entire premise of the film, used to make a point. Maybe.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Since the film is part of the "Golden Hearts" Trilogy, it might seem at first glance Karen is going to be the main character (She is also the first character to appear on screen). However, she remains sidelined for most of the movie until the final scene, with Sotffer being the center of attention for most part.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The main characters are adults who fake developmental disability as a sort of juvenile game (and in some cases to take advantage of people's hospitality) while regularly throwing around slurs like "retard" and "spaz." The movie clearly wants you to hate these pathetic people.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: What the idiots invoke. Subverted in that they're faking it.
  • Dogme '95: Dogme #2, Lars von Trier's only true Dogme film. He admitted to bending some of the rules, such as having a non-diegetic score, hiring a van to drive to locations and including a couple of body doubles in the orgy scene.
  • Fan Disservice: Pretty much all of the nudity, largely due to the encroaching style of shooting.
  • Heroic BSoD: Stoffer has a... rather unusual one aimed at a local council worker.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Thrown about quite a bit by Stoffer.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Invoked and somewhat deconstructed. The "spassers" act less like actually mental challenged people and more like the kind of childishly naïve adults who pass for such in movies, milking people's sympathies to do whatever they want.
  • It Amused Me: Why the idiots most likely do what they do.
  • Jerkass: Stoffer. As if pretending to be developmentally disabled wasn't bad enough, he eventually starts forcing everyone in his commune to further humiliate themselves because his "spazzing" makes him Drunk with Power.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: The sombre violin piece repeated occasionally throughout the film, breaking Dogme 95 rule about only including diegetic sound.
  • Manchild: All of the spasers, to an extent, considering what it is they do, but especially Stoffer.
  • Minimalism: As part of Dogme '95, the film, the film features almost entirely natural lighting, on-location shooting, diegetic sound, visible boom mics and no stunt doubles.
  • Mood Whiplash: Much like The Celebration, this film vaults the viewer back and forth mentally again and again.
  • Obfuscating Disability: The Idiots' favorite trick to get out of pretty much every situation they find themselves in.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Stoffer delivers one to his associates towards the end.
  • Wham Line:
    Susanne: I think Stoffer should choose what we do next. Because it's his party.
    Stoffer: Gang bang.

Alternative Title(s): Idioterne