In 2006, everyone’s favorite, controversial Danish cinema auteur turned 50 and, to celebrate, decided to make an office comedy. For Lars von Trier, known for making movies that can simultaneously disgust, awe, and inspire his audiences, the choice to make this kind of film might seem to be a strange one. Make no mistake though, this movie has that LVT punch to it and I’m surprised to have only just discovered that it exists.
The film, THE BOSS OF IT ALL, centers around a Danish IT company president trying to sell the business to an Icelandic buyer (FYI – the Danes and Icelanders have long had a strenuous relationship, which von Trier happily touches upon here). The only problem, aside from the buyer hating “Danish sentimentality”, is that the company owner, Ravn (Peter Ganzler), has been pretending to be an employee of a boss who doesn’t really exist. To keep his employees’ love and always have a scapegoat for when things go poorly, Ravn has created the character of Svend E. — the expert “boss of it all” who communicates with the senior staff by email from America. The buyer wants to deal with the boss and not his stooge leading Ravn to hire Kristoffer (Jens Albinus), an out-of-work actor who cares a little too much about his craft, to play the part. Hilarity, at least in terms of a von Trier film, ensues.
This isn’t your everyday comedy — although von Trier sticks fairly close to the archetypal structure of this genre, this film can be dry and uncomfortable. In fact, perhaps the pinnacles of comedy in the film come in the introduction, “intermission”, and closing of the film via monologues delivered directly by the director about the content in and reception of the film (if you’ve followed von Trier closely, this is reminiscent of his closing remarks at the end of each episode of his 1994 television show RIGET).
Apparently, making the film was unusual for von Trier as well. Compared to much of his recent work, the film features a small cast of Danish speaking, non-Hollywood actors. Additionally, for a man who is obsessed with controlling his work (his demands made Björk cry during the filming of DANCER IN THE DARK in 2000), von Trier surprisingly relinquishes control in this film by using a technique he calls Automavision instead of his usual practice of handheld camera work. This method involves finding the best fixed location for a camera and allowing a computer to decide when to tilt, pan, zoom, etc. The result is that the actors never know where the camera is looking and a series of strange, eye-catching cuts.
I highly recommend seeing this film. Although it’s a strange creation, THE BOSS OF IT ALL takes the viewer on an absurdist ride in the seemingly most boring locale – the corporate world of business.
THE BOSS OF IT ALL (DIREKTØREN FOR DET HELE) (2006)
dir. Lars von Trier
Wednesday, February 19th – 4:30PM
Part of the Ongoing Series: The Films of Lars von Trier
$7 – members, seniors, & students
$8 – nonmembers
Remis Auditorium, 161
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115