Also known as
Forbrydelsens Element
Denmark [1984] - 104m
Crime, Thriller
Directed by
More info on
The Element of Crime poster


May 11, 2022


Lars Von Trier's first full-length feature. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it surely wasn't one of the best-looking films of the 80s. The Element of Crime, with its hellishly red monochrome look, deserves more praise for its looks alone. I was a little less taken with its arthouse take on the noir genre, but that's just a side note really.

The plot revolves around a detective who meets up with his previous mentor. The two of them had written a book in the past, detailing a methodology for identifying criminals. Eager to prove his theories, the detective begins to put them into practice when he is hired to solve a murder case.

The cinematography is outrageous, the setting pleasantly vague and mysterious. I'm not joking when I say that on those strengths alone, the film was close to becoming a personal favorite. I just didn't care for the noirish elements, which didn't necessarily feel out of place, just poorly realized. A very interesting film nonetheless, Von Trier started his career with a bang.

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