Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark

IT SOUNDS GOOD on paper. Lars von Trier, bold, gifted, iconoclastic Danish director, completes his long, tantrum-filled mission to win the Cannes Film Festival's—and serious filmdom's—award of awards, the Palme d'Or, and is cemented as one of the greats. But this isn't the '70s, and taking first prize at Cannes last May doesn't automatically make Dancer in the Dark a classic or assure von Trier's position in the pantheon. Those who've seen his shape-shifting oeuvre as proof that European avant-garde film survived the senility, retirement, and death of its postwar masters were understandably champing at the bit. Fresh off cofounding the better-than-nothing film movement Dogma '95, directing the shockingly-good-in-parts crossover hit Breaking the Waves (1996), and bombing his future in Hollywood with the ferocious, controversy-baiting Dogma entry The Idiots (1998), von Trier seemed

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