|Katharina Hartmann (Barbara Sukowa) and Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr)|
You’ve seen the films of Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer. You’re curious to know whether Denmark has produced any other good filmmakers. Lars Von Trier comes to your mind and having seen Breaking The Waves you take a chance on a film called Europa.
The film begins with railroad tracks and a familiar voice. It’s the crusader with a crisis of faith Max Von Sydow, who begins a second person narrative that carries throughout the film. Then a man named Leopold arrives from America to help in some small way with the reconstruction of post-WWII Germany. You watch as he takes a job with a railway company. You hear a few pot shots at America, but then the film really settles into an everyone has an agenda and Leopold is part of everyone’s plans film. You watch as Leopold is pulled in every direction and it mildly holds your interest. However, the inclusion of great actors like Barbara Sukowa and Eddie Constantine keeps you engaged. Then it begins to really set in. You aren’t watching a regular movie. It’s an experimental film posing as a regular movie.
Upon realizing this, you forget the rather boring story and just focus on the technique. It’s beautiful and in a movie with a good plot and characters you are sure that it will greatly enhance the film. However, one thing doesn’t work at all for you and that’s the very annoying and systemic second person narration. It does almost single-handedly ruin the film for you. You will always warn people to approach this film with caution.