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German title Dogville
Original title Dogville
Country of production Denmark
original language English
Publishing year 2003
length 177 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Lars from Trier
script Lars from Trier
production Peter Aalbæk Jensen u. a.
music Antonio Vivaldi , Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
camera Anthony Dod Mantle
cut Molly Marlene Stensgård

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Dogville is a fictional film directed by Lars von Trier in a minimalist theater setting from 2003 . The plot revolves around the inhabitants of a village in which a fleeing woman finds shelter and offers various services in return. However, the woman is increasingly exploited and humiliated, for which she ultimately punishes the residents.

The film drama is the first part of Von Trier's USA trilogy , which was continued with Manderlay (2005) and is to be concluded with the film Wasington , originally planned for 2009 but not yet realized .


Dogville, a remote Rocky Mountain village during the Great Depression . The hobby writer Tom Edison, one of the residents, wants to give a lecture in front of the others on the next day to strengthen morale. He still lacks the appropriate illustration for his thesis that people have problems dealing with gifts. A young woman appears in the village and Tom hides her. It's Grace who is being chased by gangsters. They promise Tom a reward if he finds Grace and delivers it. Grace becomes Tom's illustration. After a vote, the skeptical residents give Grace two weeks to prove herself in Dogville. At Tom's suggestion, Grace wins the community's goodwill through service and is allowed to stay. She is also granted a small income. On the national holiday, Tom Grace admits his love.

The police show up with a wanted poster, and a reward is advertised for the capture of Grace. The residents of Dogville think they are innocent, but since accommodating someone wanted by the police is risky, Tom persuades Grace to simply work more in return. The mood in Dogville is gradually turning towards Grace, who makes mistakes at work because of the higher loads. The men become intrusive, the women aggressive. Eventually, Grace is raped by Chuck, a supposedly loyal family man.

With Tom's help, Grace forges an escape plan. Ben is supposed to secretly bring her out of the village. But Ben also offends Grace and does not bring her out of the village. Since an escape is to be prevented, Grace is chained. She becomes a slave, has to continue to work and is now regularly sexually abused by men. At Tom's insistence, Grace tries to obtain humane treatment for herself at the residents' meeting. But the residents no longer want to tolerate them. Tom assures Grace of his departure from Dogville. However, it shows him the mendacity of his motives. Then he calls the gangsters.

When they arrive, it turns out that Grace is the daughter of the gang leader. First she asks her father for mercy for the people of Dogville; he accuses her of arrogance because she does not judge them according to the moral and ethical standards that they would apply to themselves. In the moonlight, Grace suddenly sees people as if they are bared. She gives orders to kill everyone. Dogville is wiped out and burned down. The last one left is Tom, whom Grace shoots himself.

Table of contents according to chapters


(who introduces us to the city and its inhabitants)

You can see the "city" vertically from above in a bird's eye view. The streets are only painted on and the houses are only indicated by minimal backdrops. The camera moves down. Tom and the other villagers are introduced.

First chapter

In which Tom hears gunshots and meets Grace

Grace flees from gangsters and meets Tom, who assures her that she will not come through the mountains. He's hiding them in a mine for now. Tom decides to take the "present" with him to the next meeting, as he hadn't come up with a concept for the same anyway. When townspeople remain skeptical about accepting Grace, Tom suggests that they let her prove she is a good person. A two-week probation period for Grace is arranged, during which she is to help the others; if only one person votes against her, she would have to leave the village immediately.

second chapter

In which Grace follows Tom's plan and engages in physical work

Although at first nobody wants to give Grace work, she is finally given the task of clearing the gooseberry bushes from the rubbish. Then she is given further services: to keep the lonely blind Jack McCay (Ben Gazzara) company, to help in the small shop of the "town", to take care of the children of Chuck (Stellan Skarsgård) and Vera (Patricia Clarkson) and so on. After initially being reserved, the townspeople accept the help that they “actually don't need”, but which nonetheless make life more pleasant, and they become part of the community.

third chapter

In which Grace affords a questionable provocation

Grace is now expected to continue doing her job, which she does with pleasure - she also receives some small allowances. She even begins to make friends, for example with Jack McKay, the old blind man who claims to be not blind at all. Grace uses a trick to get him to admit that he is blind - and thereby achieves his respect. At the end of the two weeks, the town votes to allow Grace to stay.

Chapter Four

"Happy Times in Dogville"

When the police appear in “the city” in this chapter, the atmosphere darkens a little. Shouldn't they cooperate with the police and extradite Grace?

Fifth chapter

"After all, the fourth of July"

Everything is going well until the Fourth of July celebrations . Tom confesses his love for her, the community confesses that Dogville has become a better place since they arrived - until the police show up again and the poster that says "Missing" is replaced by one that says "Wanted" (with the addition: " because of bank robbery ”). However, everyone is convinced of her innocence, as she was doing work for the "city" at the time of the alleged act. Due to the increased risk for the community according to Tom (because they are hiding someone they are looking for), he suggests that Grace should do more work. Despite changing the sign from "voluntary agreement" to "under pressure," Grace agrees, reluctantly but as a favor to Tom.

Sixth chapter

In which Dogville bares its teeth

The situation is getting worse as Grace makes mistakes with the increased workload - which in turn fall back on her. The situation begins to escalate in slow motion. The male residents begin to make sexual advances to Grace, the female residents to increasingly exploit Grace. Even the behavior of the children is perverted: Jason (10 years old, son of Chuck and Vera) keeps asking Grace to spank his butt, which she does after endless provocations. Soon after, Chuck comes back home extorting and raping Grace as it becomes more and more apparent that there is no way she can defend herself against any form of exploitation.

Seventh chapter

In which Grace finally has enough of Dogville, leaves town and sees the light of day again

After Tom talks to her about escape, Vera attacks Grace harshly and publicly. She abused her son Jason and seduced her husband Chuck. In revenge, Vera destroys her beloved porcelain figurines, which she had bought with her small earnings, before the eyes of Grace, who begs for mercy and weeps. Grace now knows that she has to leave town. Through Tom's mediation, Ben, the carrier, is supposed to take her with him in his apple delivery van - only to be raped and brought back by him in the end. The residents decide that Grace can no longer escape - and since the money Tom paid Ben with comes from Tom's father, Grace is blamed for the theft. Grace is now also externally a slave: chained to a wheel and with a bell around her neck, she is raped by all the male residents except Tom.

Eighth chapter

In which the truth is spoken at a meeting and Tom leaves (just to come back later)

In a nightly meeting called by Tom, Grace finally tells everything that has been done to her by every single resident - embarrassed and completely negative, they decide that they finally have to get rid of Grace. When Tom tries to tell her this (to comfort her), he tries to approach her sexually - which Grace refuses. Tom then calls the gangsters and has Grace locked away.

Chapter ninth

In which Dogville receives the long-awaited visit and the film ends

When the gangsters finally arrive, they are warmly welcomed by a welcoming committee. Grace is freed and handed over, and we finally find out who she really is, the daughter of the powerful gang boss, who ran away because she did not want to support her father's way of life. Her father describes her as arrogant because she does not allow others the same moral standard that she demands of herself, a key phrase of the film. She agrees: if she were to demand the same moral standard from the residents, she would have to demand a terrible punishment - which she finally allows the father's thugs to carry out. These burn Dogville down and slaughter all residents without mercy. Grace herself shoots Tom.

Interpretations and Notes

The film is largely inspired by the ballad of Pirate Jenny and Brecht's Epic Theater . According to the critic James Berardinelli from, different interpretations are possible ("It (the film) inspires thought and discussion, and there's no right answer. One can engage in a verbal sparring match about what von Trier meant ..." for example : "It inspires reflections and discussions, and there is no right answer. You can fall into a verbal duel about what von Trier meant."

In the German-language dubbing of the film, the actor Peter Fricke , who later speaks this role again in the sequel Manderlay , took on the part of the narrator.

The film is the beginning of a trilogy . Nicole Kidman was originally supposed to play in the sequels, but she had to cancel this due to scheduling reasons. But she should probably take on the role of Grace again in the third part, Wasington .


  • epd Film : "In" Dogville ", Lars von Trier is steadfastly continuing his path of reducing cinematic means. Maybe it will drive a lot of people out of the cinema. But those who stay can experience a small miracle: a cinema that begins at the limits of images. "
  • Lexicon of international film : "Three-hour theatrical performance that redefines the boundaries of cinema thanks to fascinating camera work and excellent editing."

Film awards: nominations and awards

price category Winners and nominees result
Bodil Awards Best Danish Film Lars from Trier Won
Best main actress Nicole Kidman Nominated
Best supporting actor Stellan Skarsgård Nominated
Robert (award) Best wardrobe Manon Rasmussen Won
Best script Lars from Trier Won
Best cut Molly Marlene Stensgaard Nominated
Best movie Lars from Trier Nominated
Best camera Anthony Dod Mantle Nominated
Best production design Peter Grant Nominated
Best supporting actor Stellan Skarsgård Nominated
Best director Lars from Trier Nominated
Cannes International Film Festival Palme d'Or Lars from Trier Nominated
European film award Best camera Anthony Dod Mantle Won
Best movie Lars from Trier Nominated
Best director Lars from Trier Nominated
Best script Lars from Trier Nominated
Chlotrudis Awards Best ensemble Dogville Ensemble Nominated
Best script Lars from Trier Nominated
Premios Goya Best European film Lars from Trier Nominated
Russian Guild of Film Critics Best Foreign Actress  Nicole Kidman Won
Best foreign film Lars from Trier Won
Sindacato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani  Best director Lars from Trier Nominated
Guldbagge Award Best foreign film Lars from Trier Nominated
David di Donatello Best European film Lars from Trier Won
Copenhagen International Film Festival Honorary award Lars from Trier Won
Cinema Brazil Grand Prize Best foreign film Lars from Trier Won
Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain Best foreign film Lars from Trier Won
Guild film award Best foreign film Lars from Trier Second place
Sofia International Film Festival Best movie Lars from Trier Won

In 2016, Dogville ranked 76th in a BBC poll of the 100 most important films of the 21st century .

Stage processing

Dogville was performed as a play on the following stages (excerpt):


  • Georg Tiefenbach: Drama and direction: Lars von Triers Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8260-4096-2 .
  • Charles Martig: Cinema of Irritation: Lars von Trier's theological and aesthetic challenge. Schüren, Marburg 2008.
  • Stefan Orth , Michael Staiger, Joachim Valentin (eds.): Dogville - Godville. Methodical approaches to a film by Lars von Triers (= film and theology . Vol. 12). Schüren, Marburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-89472-631-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Certificate of Release to Dogville . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , October 2003 (PDF; test number: 95 486 K).
  2. [1]
  3. James Berardinelli on ReelViews
  4. epd film no. 10/2003, joint work of the Protestant journalism, Frankfurt a. M., pp. 31-32
  5. ^ Dogville. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed October 17, 2016 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used