Dogville Meaning Movie & Plot Summary

Why the kind heroine of the film “Dogville” dealt with the whole city? “Dogville” (2003): the meaning of the film, the explanation of the ending, the plot, the content, the psychology of the heroine Nicole Kidman, similar films

Country: Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, UK, France, Finland, Norway, Italy

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Detective

Year of production: 2003

Directed by: Lars von Trier

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Harriet Andersson

tagline: “Who will survive in a creepy city?”

Awards and nominations: In 2003 the film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Dogville” by Lars von Trier is a philosophical and extremely cruel picture. Telling the story of modern Sodom and Gomorrah, talking about good and evil, the director comes to an unexpected, albeit controversial conclusion.

The meaning of the film “Dogville” (Dogville) according to Trier is that cruelty in certain situations is more constructive than boundless kindness.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the content of the film “Dogville”. 30 years of the twentieth century. Grace, an attractive young woman, finds herself in a small town called Dogville trying to escape from a gang of gangsters.

The city lives according to its own traditions and is ruled by one person who considers himself a moral and spiritual leader. Grace arrives in town just as his son Tom, a writer who hasn’t written anything yet, claims to be the aging leader.

Nicole KidmanNicole Kidman played the role of Grace. Frame from the film.

It is he who discovers the hiding girl and invites her to stay in the city. Residents of Dogville are skeptical about this idea – they are not ready to host a stranger and thereby be at risk of gangster attacks. However, Tom convinces them that Grace needs to be adopted. He offers Grace herself to prove to the townspeople that she is a good person. For this, the community decides to give her two weeks: during this time, the girl must win the love of the inhabitants of Dogville.

Grace agrees. Every day she carries out small assignments of the inhabitants of the town. Gradually, they get used to her and even admit that with her appearance, life in Dogville has changed for the better.

Grace Dogville herself begins to really like it: she has a job with a salary and friends. At the end of the two-week period, a vote is taken which unanimously decides that Grace may remain in Dogville for as long as necessary. Gradually, life is getting better so that it seems to the residents of Dogville that Grace has always lived with them. Tom confesses his love to the girl, and she reciprocates.

Paul BettanyPaul Bettany played the role of Tom Edison Jr. Frame from the film.

During the celebration of Independence Day, the police arrive in Dogville: an officer hangs a poster of Grace on the wall and says that she is wanted in connection with suspicion of participating in a bank robbery. Residents of the town convince the police that their ward is innocent: at the time of the crime, she was among them.

The police leave, and the residents gather for a council, at which Tom tells a surprised Grace that because of her, Dogville has been exposed to a new risk. In this regard, she must work twice as much, but at the same time she will be paid less. This option suits everyone except Grace, who, however, agrees. So she turns from a pleasant neighbor-assistant into almost a slave.

Due to the heavy workload, the quality of Grace’s work is deteriorating, and disgruntled residents of the town are increasingly making claims against her. Gradually, she loses the respect of people – women treat her with contempt, and men make dirty hints. The apogee of everything is rape – and this happens at the moment when the police once again arrive in the town, that is, when Grace is most vulnerable.

Ending explanation

Towards the end, Grace’s life becomes so unbearable that she decides to run away. The escape fails, the residents of Dogville “officially” declare her a common slave and deprive her of her freedom.

Everyone treats her with contempt, and men force her to have sex at night. The only one who hasn’t been with Grace so far is Tom. However, towards the end of the picture, Grace is already well aware of what he is. When Tom offers her sex in exchange for improving her position, the girl turns him down. Stung by this, he contacts the gangsters and informs them that Grace is in Dogville.

borough of DogvilleFrame from the film.

Gangsters soon arrive, and it turns out that Grace is the daughter of the head of a criminal gang. She ran away from him because she did not want to be involved in dark deeds.

Grace is released, and she talks to her father, who reproaches her with a kind of altruism: she tries to live, guided by morality and morality, but does not require the same from others, for which she suffers. Gradually, he brings his daughter to the idea that she should punish the town.

After hesitating, Grace agrees. The gangsters kill all the inhabitants (except for Tom, whom Grace kills herself) of Dogville and burn the town. Only a dog named Moses remains to survive.

At first glance, the explanation for the ending is quite simple: Grace simply took advantage of the “right of the strong.” But Dogville isn’t just a movie about retribution. This picture of hidden meaning, taken by von Trier, the most famous philosopher and cynic, and saturated with Old Testament and New Testament symbols, is far from being so simple.

Stellan SkarsgardStellan Skarsgard as Chuck. Frame from the film.

The meaning of the ending of the film “Dogville” can be understood by analyzing the conversation between Grace and her father. During the conversation, he calls her arrogant.

The point is that stubbornly not giving people the punishment they are persistently seeking is the height of arrogance. Unconditional forgiveness can become a sophisticated torture. By forgiving people more and more vile deeds, we allow them to feel their own immorality and inner ugliness. This is what they cannot forgive – people hate the feeling of their own misery.

It so happened that we love not so much the people themselves, but the state in which we find ourselves, communicating with them. Communicating with Grace, the townspeople felt guilty, sinful, imperfect. They wanted to get rid of that feeling, and that required getting rid of Grace. Without a doubt, if a gang of gangsters had not appeared at the end, they would have killed her.

That is, the meaning is as follows: they gave themselves the right to treat her ugly – she also gave herself the right to do with them as she saw fit.

The meaning of the film

Despite the dramatic plot, “Dogville” is a rather ironic work. This is where stories from the Old and New Testaments collide.

In the outskirts, far from large settlements, lives a few completely ordinary people – not without flaws, but in general – quite harmless and law-abiding. They follow the rules of the community in which they live. Thanks to this, a benevolent atmosphere reigns in the city. Everyone is happy with everything. Only Tom Edison is experiencing something like an existential crisis.

In general, the lifestyle of the town corresponds to the concepts of the Old Testament, which includes not only the parables and deeds of the ancient prophets testifying about Christ, but also a specific set of rules that, according to legend, were given to people through Moses by God himself.

The essence of the film “Dogville” with Nicole Kidman can be understood if you pay attention to one – special – commandment. It sounds like this: “An eye for an eye.” The meaning of this commandment is not that if you break the law, you will be punished, but that the punishment for the crime committed should be commensurate.

Women of DogvilleNicole Kidman (Grace), Harriet Andersson as Gloria, Lauren Bacall as Mother Ginger. Frame from the film.

One day, a girl named Grace appears in the city (translated from English, Grace is mercy, or grace), which symbolizes the New Testament, which tells about the deeds of the Messiah – Christ. Jesus did not cancel all the principles of the Old Testament, but gave other commandments to people, one of which is: “Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, then turn the other to him.” The meaning is in forgiveness and mercy.

This (forgiveness) is exactly what Grace does. Not sparing herself, she helps people in every possible way. She forgives them, even when they cross all the lines.

This, according to von Trier, is the main problem of the New Testament. A person needs control and fear – otherwise he loses a sense of proportion.

Receiving kindness and love, a person cannot stop – he demands even more kindness and love. Allowing the people of Dogville to parasitize herself, from the favorite of the community, Grace turns into their slave.

However, one should not rush to compare Grace with Christ (rather with Yeshua. However, von Trier hardly knows about his existence). Grace also has features of Lilith, who, according to the apocrypha, was Adam’s first wife and wanted to be equal to him in everything, but did not get such an opportunity. Forced to leave Paradise, Lilith made an alliance with the devil. Wanting to take revenge on Adam, she forced him to pluck the forbidden fruit through a snake. Artists often depict Lilith as a red-haired woman entwined in an embrace with a snake. Grace is also a redhead…

In some analysis of the picture, the audience assumes that the kindness of the main character of “Dogville” is the kindness of Antichrist, the devilish temptation.

In the final conversation with his father (according to some interpretations, he embodies the Old Testament Yahweh, from whose wrath Lilith fled) there is a key phrase: “Your kindness is arrogance.” This is about boundless, boundless kindness.

rape of the main characterFrame from the film.

Grace continues to live in Dogville even after the residents of the town sit on her neck. She explains this by saying that they are weak, they need to be understood and forgiven. However, by saying this, she elevates herself, which demonstrates to the Dogvilles that they are worse than her and provokes conflicts. Mercy according to Trier is a typical trick of the devil.

However, it is unlikely that the director (a staunch atheist) set himself the goal of criticizing Christianity. Rather, his idea was to criticize the pseudo-Christianity and pseudo-humanism that, in his opinion, Western civilization demonstrates.

The burning of the city at the end symbolizes the 20th century with all its horrors. And the culprit of everything is Tom Edison, who embodies the intelligentsia, which, guided by “good intentions”, constantly leads humanity to revolutions and wars.

At the end of the picture, only the dog Moses survives. The point is that the New Testament is not needed by a primitive person – he can live only according to the principles of the Old Testament – according to the principles of coercion and fear.

dog mosesFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few films similar to Dogville in meaning:

  • “Dancing in the Dark” (Denmark, Sweden, 2000). Selma loses her sight, but nevertheless continues to work. She loves music and hopes for the best;
  • “Breaking the Waves” (Denmark, Sweden, 1996). Bess wants her husband, Jan, to be there all the time. After an accident on a drilling rig, Yang becomes disabled;
  • “Hunting” (Denmark, Sweden, 2012). The protagonist fights for custody of his son.

Add a comment