Dogville

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I wouldn't go up there if I were you. I know the mountain well, I doubt if I'd get away with my life...

Dogville (2003) is a movie written and directed by Lars von Trier, starring Nicole Kidman and Paul Bettany. It is a parable that uses an extremely minimal, stage-like set to tell the story of Grace Mulligan (Kidman), a woman hiding from mobsters, who arrives in the small mountain town of Dogville, Colorado, and is provided refuge in return for physical labor. Her stay there ultimately changes the lives of the local people and the town in many ways.

A quiet little town not far from here.

"The film Dogville as told in nine chapters and a Prologue."

Prologue[edit]

Which introduces us to the Town and its residents...
  • This is the sad tale of the township of Dogville. Dogville was in the Rocky Mountains in the US of A. Up here where the road came to its definitive end near the entrance to the old, abandoned silver mine.
  • Most of the buildings were pretty wretched; more like shacks; frankly. The house in which Tom lived was the best, though, and in good times might almost have passed for presentable.
  • Tom's father had been a doctor and now received a modest pension so it was no great disaster for Tom to drift about not doing anything in particular. Tom was a writer… at any rate by his own lights. Oh, his output as committed to paper was so far limited to the words "great" and "small", followed by a question mark, but nevertheless meticulously archived in one of his many bureau drawers... In order to postpone the time at which he would have to put pen to paper in earnest, Tom had now come up with a series of meetings on moral rearmament with which he felt obliged to benefit the town.
  • Jason gave that mutt a bone with meat on it? When did we last see meat? Next time you waste good food I'll take your knife away. Oughta known it was you giv'n meat to eat. Moses was meant to be hungry! To keep watch.
    • Chuck
  • These are wicked times, Tom Edison. Soon there'll be folks by with even less than us.
    • Chuck
  • You think they're fine? I don't think so, I think there is a lot this country has forgotten. I just try and refresh folks memory by way of illustration.
    • Tom

Chapter ONE[edit]

In which Tom hears gunfire and meets Grace.
  • It wasn't long before his thoughts were back on his favorite subjects again, and in the midst of the storm they metamorphosed into articles and novels and great gatherings that'd listen in silence to Tom after the publication of yet another volume that scourged and purged the human soul. And he saw men — and among them even other writers — throw their arms round one another as, through his words, life had opened up for them anew. It hadn't been easy. But by his diligence and application to narrative and drama his message had gotten through, and asked about his technique he would have to say but one word: "Illustration".
  • Tom could have spent another half hour or more on the bench, but another unusual noise roused him. It was Moses barking. Oh, that wasn't unusual in itself, but it was the way he barked that was new. His barking was not loud, but more of a snarl, as if the danger was quite close at hand and not merely a passing raccoon or fox. As if the dog were standing face to face with a force to be taken seriously.
  • Hey Lady! I wouldn't go up there if I were you. I know the mountain well, I doubt if I'd get away with my life. It's a very nasty drop.
    • Tom
  • Is there another way?
    • Grace
  • The beautiful fugitive's name was Grace. She hadn't chosen Dogville from a map or sought out the township for a visit, yet Tom felt right away that she belonged.
  • She could have kept her vulnerability to herself, but she had elected to give herself up to him at random. As... Yes... a gift. "Generous, very generous", thought Tom.
  • Are you saying that everybody in this town is like you?
    • Grace to Tom
  • I think you have plenty to offer Dogville.
    • Tom to Grace
  • To call the mood of the audience at Tom’s morale lecture in the mission house the next day "enthusiastic" would have been going too far — but they had come. And Tom had launched himself fearlessly into his endeavor to illustrate the human problem: to receive. The subject was obvious, but quite dreadfully ill-considered by this young man. To compensate for his lack of preparation Tom made diligent use of his technique of lashing out somewhat haphazardly in all directions.
  • Honestly, Tom, you've done it again. Made us come here to listen to a lot of nonsense. What do you think you are some kind of philosopher?
    • Liz
  • Observant, that's what I am.
    • Tom
  • I really don't want to put any of you in jeopardy.
    • Grace
  • Surely we can offer her two weeks! And if after that time so much as one man cries out Be gone! — I promise I'll happily send her packing myself.
    • Tom
  • No more words were spoken at the town meeting in the mission house. But it had been decided, they all felt, that the fugitive would be given two weeks. And they would all be able to look at themselves in the mirror and know that they had done what they could, indeed, and perhaps more than most people would have done.
  • Those awful figurines say more about the people in this town, than many words.
    • Tom
All I see, is a beautiful little town in the midst of magnificent mountains. A place where people have hopes and dreams even under the hardest conditions...
  • Calling Dogville beautiful was original at least. Grace was just casting one more look at the figurines she herself would have dismissed as tasteless a few days earlier, when she suddenly sensed what would best have been described as a tiny change of light over Dogville.

Chapter TWO[edit]

In which Grace follows Tom's plan and embarks upon physical labour
  • This first day of spring had also been picked to be Grace's first ever day of work. The day in which she was to set off around Dogville and offer herself one hour per household per day.
  • A cleanin' lady for a cleanin' lady? You be talkin' nonsense, Mister Ben!
    • Olivia
  • Grace turned into the alley which went by the exotic name, Glunen Street to knock on the door of the blind — but only too vain — man.
  • Grace's interview with Jack McKay proved sadly symptomatic of the attitude in Dogville. Reserved but friendly, not without curiosity. Only Jack had expressed his "no" concisely and precisely: Martha needed a monologue almost an hour long to arrive at the same conclusion.
  • Grace had ended up next to Ma Ginger's gooseberry bushes, in a mood that was not particularly good.
  • Nobody want's me to work for them. I would really like to offer something in return. You're all running a terrible risk having me here. I mean, I am willing to learn.
    • Grace
  • I went to Mr. McKay. I went to Martha and to Chuck and Vera's, and nobody seems to need any help. They all think everyone else needs something, and not themselves.
    • Grace
  • Perhaps there's something you don't need done?
    • Tom
  • Something...something that you would like done, but that you don't think is necessary.
    • Grace
  • I'll happily mind Achilles if Vera will let me. But if he doesn't like me he doesn't like me.
    • Grace
  • They are good kids. And I love them. Please don’t say such nice things about the kids. I cry too easily. Both in sorrow and in joy.
    • Vera
  • Oh, don’t be ashamed, Ben. We all have the right to make the most of our lives. I’m sure that those ladies in those houses they bring a lot of joy to a lot of men.
    • Grace
  • If you want my Ma to like you, and let you stay. You'll just have to be nice to me.
    • Jason
  • I wasn't trying to fool anyone.
    • Grace
  • This town is rotten from the inside out and I wouldn't miss it, if it fell into the gorge tomorrow. I see no charm here, but you seem to. Admit it you've fallen for Dogville. The trees, the mountains, the simple folk. And if all that ain't got you fooled yet, I bet the cinnamon has. That damned cinnamon in those gooseberry pies. Dogville has everything that you ever dreamed of in the big city.
    • Chuck
  • I found out that people are the same all over. Greedy as animals. In a small town they're just a bit less successful. Feed 'em enough they'll eat till their bellies burst.
    • Chuck
  • That's why you wanted to get rid of me...because you can't stand that I remind you of what it was you came here to find.
    • Grace

Chapter THREE[edit]

In which Grace indulges in a shady piece of provocation.
If the vote says that I should leave, then I’ll take the path across the mountains, while it’s still light...
  • There is not much to see around here. Wretched town.
    • Jack McKay
  • You're no fool, Miss Grace. No fool. You probably see that those curtains are hard to open... and obviously concluded that it's because they're not used very often. But the view's good — entrancing even. So, ask me, why a man who loves the light hang these heavy curtains? Yes, I'm blind. Not weak sighted, not myopic: Blind. So please go and let me be that on my own... In Switzerland they call it the Alpenglünen. That's the light that reflects from the highest peaks after the sun goes down behind the mountains. But now it's gone.
    • Jack McKay
  • Grace was standing beside Tom, watching them convene, and knew inside herself that this might well be the last time she would see these now so familiar faces. She had at least two of them against her, and even one would have been too many.
  • Nobody should be prevented from speaking their mind out of politeness. I'll wait at the mine. And if the vote says that I should leave, then I'll take the path across the mountains, while it's still light.
    • Grace
  • Grace had friends in Dogville. That was for sure. Whether they were few or many did not matter a jot. Grace had bared her throat to the town and it had responded with a great gift: with friends. No gangster could deprive her of this meeting with the township no matter how many guns in the world. And should the strokes of the bell not reach 15, she knew now that she meant something to the town and that her stay had been of significance. Not much, perhaps, but nevertheless, a trace she had left. And the first in her young life in which she took pride.
  • I think they like you here.
    • Tom

Chapter FOUR[edit]

Happy times in Dogville
  • And now, since the town had agreed that everyone was to give according to his abilities she received wages, not much, but enough to save up for the first of the tiny china figurines from the row of seven that had stood for so long gathering dust in the window of the store. And she dreamed that in time she would be able to acquire them all. Slowly those alabaster hands turned into a pair of hands that could have belonged to anyone in any little rural community.
  • It was such a relief when you turned up and you were the one all the men had eyes for. You know, Tom and them. I've had to put up with it for so long... Frankly, I just didn't have the energy for it anymore.
    • Liz

Chapter FIVE[edit]

Fourth of July after all
  • Today was a day for celebration. Nobody was to worry about the hard times. And Grace could stop at Ma Gingers window quite content: to ascertain that only two of the little china figurines remained, and were thus the only two she had not yet been able to save up enough to purchase.
  • I think I've done a pretty good analysis of the folks in this town and I think I understand them in a meaningful way. But when I come to decipher you, I get absolutely nowhere. You know Liz. Liz is easy to read. And there was some attraction between us, but as I can see right through her, intellectually I mean, I can see right through her, my desire is purely of a physical nature. But with you, it's more... it's more complicated.
    • Tom
  • Grace: Are you trying to say that you're in love with me?
    Tom: No I wouldn't... love is...It's not... It's a big word... yeah. Yeah.
    Grace: That's good, because I think that I am in love with you, too.
  • This year I didn't bring any notes with me. Because I'm not gonna pretend, I can read them. Which brings me to a point. A point I wanna make. And that point is you Grace. Yes. You have made Dogville a wonderful place to live in. As a matter of fact, somebody tells me they ran into grumpy old Chuck down the street and he was actually smiling. Well, I've never seen your smile, Grace, but I will bet you I could describe it. Because it obviously has every color that's refracted from the shiniest prism in the world. You probably have a face to match that. Does she have a face to match that, Tom?
    • Jack McKay
  • We are proud to have you among us. And we thank you for showing us who you are. Here's to you, Grace. Stay with us as long as you damn please.
    • Jack McKay
  • Grace was the same and so was the town. That the gangsters had fixed to have charges made against Grace in their efforts to neutralize her came as no surprise. But everything had changed a little yet again.
  • Well, they couldn't really argue that anything had changed. But by not telling the police they felt they were committing a crime themselves.
    • Tom
  • I think I should leave.
    • Grace
  • Tom: From a business perspective, from a business perspective, your presence in Dogville has become more costly. Because it's more dangerous for them to have you here — not that they don't want you — since they feel there should be some counterbalance, some quid pro quo.
    Grace: That sounds like words that the gangsters would use...
    Tom: There is also more of an incentive if you don't wanna stay. See, with all those wanted posters hanging around the place, I can hardly think of anywhere else you could hide.
  • I'm willing to do whatever it takes. If I have to work harder, longer hours for less pay. Then I'm willing to do that, of course I am. I just wanna be sure that they wouldn't prefer that I left town.
    • Grace
  • I have to get some sleep. My days are gonna be much busier now.
    • Grace
  • I hate it for you to see me like this. I can't bare that I'm doubting you. I'm sorry. Goodnight.
    • Grace
  • Everybody was really against any changes to Grace's working conditions at all when the subject occasionally came up in conversation. Oh, Ben had declared in sympathy that he wouldn't accept any more work than before, and Grace was grateful for that, even if he was a bit drunk when he said so. Busy minutes became busy hours and busy hours became busy days, and irrespective of whether they thought the idea of increasing Grace's services had any fairness and justification to it or not, it didn't seem to make anyone any happier. More to the contrary.
  • Vera wants me to picking apples from trees that are barely in the ground. Things take time. That's love, seeing what they need and respecting those needs. If anyone understands that, it's you. At least I thought so.
    • Chuck
  • Grace: Don't be upset. I'm sorry if I doubted you. It won't happen again. I promise you.
    Chuck: I wouldn't make that promise if I was you. When you fended me off, a thought came into my mind that made me ashamed. A thought that you would hate me for.
  • You've really been alone up here, haven't you? You haven't had anyone to comfort you and I should ask you for forgiveness... Still friends?
    • Grace
  • I was just resting. Awful lot to do here in Dogville, considering nobody needs anything done. Jason wants to sit on my lap all the time.
    • Grace
  • Grace: You can see through it all, can't you. I'll tell you, I'm gonna be asleep in two minutes.
    Tom: What if I don't want you to go to sleep?
    Grace: I don't think you have a choice tonight.
  • Tom: I do love you, Grace.
    Grace: I'm glad you love me. I love you, too. I really do.
  • We have our whole lives ahead of us. The thing that I love about you is that you don't demand anything of me. That we can just be together.
    • Grace

Chapter SIX[edit]

In which Dogville bares its teeth
  • I have been mean to the others too, even baby Achilles. And he's so tiny he can't put up a fight. It's not right... I got it coming to me, I know. I deserve a spanking.
    • Jason
  • I don't care how much fun you think it would be. I'm not gonna spank you, Jason.
    • Grace
  • Maybe I should go stand in the corner and be ashamed?
    • Jason
  • Just as Dogville had done from its open, frail shelf on the mountainside, quite unprotected from any capricious storms, Grace, too, had laid herself open. And there she dangled from her frail stalk like the apple in the Garden of Eden. An apple so swollen that the juices almost ran. And once again the police had come to Dogville.
  • God only knows what that woman’s capable of.
    • Chuck
  • It wasn't me who wanted you here. You were far to beautiful and frail for this place. You tricked me into feeling that I meant something to you. It's your own damn fault I need your respect, Grace.
    • Chuck
  • Please. Stop it. Please. Please don't. Please look at me. Look at me, talk to me. We're friends. You are my family, stop it.
    • Grace

Chapter SEVEN[edit]

In which Grace finally gets enough of Dogville, leaves the town, and again sees the light of day
  • That evening Tom had sensed at once that something had taken place, but had to plead with Grace for ages before she finally broke down and unburdened herself.
  • I came here with all these ideas and these stupid prejudices. He is not strong, Tom. He looks strong, but he's not.
    • Grace
  • Next day the weather changed. The fog came rolling down from the mountains. And although there were no sunsets to be seen, McKay thought it best that she sat by him anyway. She had sat by Jack McKay so many times now, but Jack had not got better at judging the distance between them. On the contrary, where fingers alone had previously brushed her young flesh, now it was a hand that remained in place throughout the allotted span.
  • The hours in the orchard were long now, for the harvest was underway. And Grace had long since given up arguing with Chuck's perception that respect for cultivation, harvest, and fruit could be directly measured in provision of carnality.
  • Though reluctant to leave Grace alone Tom wandered around quite often now, lost in thought as he tried to crack the problem of possible escape. And as Grace's wages no longer found their way to her purse he had stepped in, and together they had triumphantly picked up the last of the seven figurines from Ma Ginger's window.
  • She saw you, Grace. She saw you. Behind this pile of broken limbs... with Chuck... He said it wasn't the first time you'd made advances towards him. He never told me before because he wanted to spare my feelings. He's a withdrawn and primitive man, but at heart he's loyal and he is good. What do you want with my husband?
    • Vera
  • I believe smashing them is less a crime than making them.
    • Vera
  • Vera, remember how I taught your children... Remember how happy you were, when I... When I taught your children about the doctrine of stoicism and they finally understood it.
    • Grace
  • All right, for that, I'm gonna be lenient. I'm going to break two of your figurines first, and if you can demonstrate your knowledge of the doctrine of stoicism by holding back your tears, I'll stop. Have you got that.
    • Vera
  • In her lifetime Grace had had considerable practice at constraining her emotions, and would never have believed it would be hard to control them now. But as the porcelain pulverized on the floor it was as if it were human tissue disintegrating. The figurines were the offspring of the meeting between the township and her. They were the proof that in spite of everything, her suffering had created something of value. Grace could no longer cope. For the first time since her childhood, she wept.
  • Knowing the exact time to harvest is the greatest art of all, Chuck had said, and the time had come. For the apples and for Grace.
  • June is near to bursting. She can't use the pot on her own, as you well know. It ain't fitting' to toy with her just 'cause she's crippled and can't help herself.
    • Olivia
  • The evening before the escape Tom tactically thought it best not to press his desires of the flesh too hard upon Grace, and instead he adopted a more sensitive approach.
  • There is a right and a wrong time to plant seeds and you can't plant seeds in the winter.
    • Tom
  • You love me and we will meet again in love and in freedom.
    • Grace
  • I shouldn't be ashamed wanting you, should I? It's nothing to be ashamed of.
    • Tom
  • Its lovely. It's lovely that we want each other. But not this way.
    • Grace
  • As Grace hastened to the garage, she grew more and more pleased with the decision to keep her departure under wraps. There was actually quite a bit of work Dogville didn't need doing that its residents would have to carry out for themselves in future.
  • You said once, you said once, that there aren't many pleasures in my life. And you know... I go to Miss Laura once a week. And you got me to see that it weren't nothing to be ashamed of. I was gonna go there tonight and of course it costs me. I mean, not as much... not as much as a surcharge for dangerous goods, but still... it does cost me, you know.
    • Ben
  • It's not personal, Grace. It's not personal. I just... I have to take due payment, that's all. I don't... I don't have a choice.
    • Ben
  • Grace fell asleep on the long highway, thanks to her healthy ability to push any unpleasantness around her far away. A generous God had blessed her with the rare talent of being able to look ahead, and only ahead. And later when the truck slowed down about to reach its destination and she slowly returned to consciousness, she had no way of knowing how long she had slept. All she knew was that she would be happy to see the light of day again. And then she heard the dog.
  • It didn't help Grace that the first theft ever registered in Dogville had taken place the previous evening, when most people were assembled for the town meeting. Old Tom Edison Senior had had a considerable sum of money stolen from his medicine closet and suspicion soon fell on Grace, who had apparently been planning an escape that would surely require funding. Grace chose to remain silent in the face of these new charges.
  • Grace, we don't like having to do this. We don't have much of a choice if we are to protect our community.
    • Tom Sr.

Chapter EIGHT[edit]

In which there is a meeting where the truth is told and Tom leaves (only to return later)
  • I'm here to do the thinking for you. If we are to have the slightest chance of getting you out of here, they can never know how close we really are. They can't know I'm trying to help you. If they knew it was me that took the money, I wouldn't be here talking to you now.
    • Tom
  • Please don't disappear, Tom. I need you.
    • Grace
  • Now that Vera had received proof that it was in fact Chuck who'd forced his attentions on Grace, she was meaner than ever. Had Grace had friends in Dogville they, too, fell like the leaves.
  • Everything I tried to do went wrong. I can't come up with the answer I was looking for.
    • Tom
  • It all started with a meeting, so it will be logical to end it with one too. You'll talk and they'll listen. They can't refuse to listen.
    • Tom
  • It is like a child who doesn't want to take his medicine. They'll be furious at first, but in the end they'll see it is for their own good. Just don't be hateful. Don't be reproving. If anybody can do it, Grace, you can.
    • Tom
  • If forgiveness was close at hand in the mission house, they were all hiding it well. It hadn't been easy for Tom to get them there. Appealing to consciences stowed farther and farther away by their owners every day as if they were as fragile as Henson's glasses after polishing, had proved quite a task. But if one was going, the others might as well come along, too, so nobody could talk behind anybody's back.
  • Grace had presented her story with clarity. She had not embellished or understated. And just as she finished the snowflakes all at once stopped tumbling down, leaving Dogville clad in the daintiest, whitest blanket of snow imaginable.
  • The snow had come early, perhaps too early. A misplaced augury of conciliation. Tom looked around, worried: Vera's teeth were clenched. She was the first to speak.
  • Copious lies. Just lies.
    • Vera
  • Tom, I got to tell you. Even I have trouble defending that girl. With your help, which I prefer to think was accidental, Tom... She has managed to spread bitterness and troubles throughout this whole town. She has to go. How do we get rid of her, Tom.
    • Jack McKay
  • I asked you here to listen. You only came to defend yourselves... I'm sorry it's quite a blow to me to see all of my friends act this way, so uncivilized.
    • Tom
  • No, no more plans. I promise. They asked me to chose between you and them. That's not difficult on a day like today. I love you. You may be stronger, it's true, but the ideals, the ideals we share... I've chosen, Grace. I have chosen you. Now it is the time! The time we've been waiting for. We free ourselves of Dogville.
    • Tom
  • It'd be so easy to make love right now. They may kill us any minute... It would be the perfect romantic ending... It would be so beautiful. But from the point of view of our love, so completely wrong... We were to meet in freedom.
    • Grace
  • You're cold now, Grace. I've just rejected everybody I've ever known in your favor. Wouldn't it be worth compromising, just one of your ideals just a little to ease my pain? Everybody in this town has had your body, but me... We're the ones supposed to be in love.
    • Tom
  • My darling Tom. You can have me if you want me. Just do what the others do. Threaten me. Tell me that you'll turn me in to the law, to the gangsters and I promise you, you can take whatever it is you want from me. I trust you, but maybe you don't trust [Self|yourself]]? Perhaps you've been tempted, you've been tempted to join the others and force me. Perhaps that's why you're so upset.
    • Grace
  • Let tomorrow bring what it's gonna bring. It's not a crime to doubt yourself, Tom, but it's wonderful that you don't.
    • Grace
  • Of course it was all a load of nonsense. If anybody was capable of keeping track of ideals and reality, he was. After all, it was his job. Moral issues were his home ground. To think that he might doubt his own purity was really to think very little of him.
  • It was all quite a blow to the young philosopher! And realistically enough, he thought that if the doubt was already present, it could grow. Perhaps so great that one day it would prove detrimental to his entire moral mission. ... Fortunately Tom was as conscientious as regards his future profession as he was practical. He allowed sincerity, and ideals plenty of room in his life, without getting "sentimental" about it, as he would put it.
  • Grace opened her eyes after an almost unconscious sleep, and was confused... Judging by the light coming through the cracks in the walls, it had to be nearly midday... "The grey hour" as Jack McKay for some reason called noon in Dogville, being a man of many ideas and proclivities, quite a few of which Grace would prefer to remain ignorant of!
    But why had nobody roused her? Nobody had hammered furiously at her door. Not a child had thrown mud into her bed or broken her remaining windowpanes. Now she remembered. She recalled the meeting the previous day, and puzzled still more. Why had she not been confronted with the outcome of that meeting? Or even killed? It was quite unlike Dogville to restrain its indignation at any point. Perhaps things had turned out well after all?
  • We thought some time off would be good for you. That was quite a speech you made yesterday. It gave us all something to think about.
    • Mrs. Henson
  • I wouldn't say we won exactly, not exactly, but I think something very good can come out of this, something very good.
    • Tom
  • Tom: The people of this town they surprise me again and again. I might even have to revise my theories a little bit. You know how much I hate doing that kind of thing. You know, Grace, last night when I came back and I saw you lying there asleep so sweetly, I was suddenly inspired. I wrote the first chapter of a story. A story about a small town. Guess where I got the inspiration? But I haven't come up with a name for the town yet.
    Grace: Why not just call it Dogville?
    Tom: Wouldn't work. No, it wouldn't work. It's got to be universal. Lot of writers make that mistake, you see. Hey, do you want me to read it to you? If there is any love in it, it comes from you...
  • Two people only hurt each other if they doubt the love they have for one another. You can read it some other time. You sit down some place and gaze out at the mountains. It's what the girl in my novel does.
    • Tom
  • Sensibly, Grace chose to hope for the best rather than fear the worst, and planned to spend the day calmly washing her clothes and herself, which for some reason or another she was sure none of the characters from Tom's fictitious township would dream of doing.
  • After two days off Grace had been put back to work, but the quietness remained... Indeed it intensified ... until on the fifth day it swelled into a strange mood that, all of a sudden, brought all the citizens to the street to listen. They asked each other if the phone was really still down, or if they'd heard about Ben having had to turn his truck around on his way to Georgetown that very morning on account of a large tree blocking the road. They were not worried ... worried was not the right word... and then Tom spotted the cars.
  • Grace had just started on the bed, which June had soiled yet again, when an irritating feeling of wasting her time forced itself upon her. And it was without thinking she then said the words: "Nobody gonna sleep here." She didn't say them out loud, but even so she was startled by the utterance that had urged itself upon her. Where had these ominous words come from?
  • You couldn't bring yourself to throw it away, could you? The number he gave you that night. You couldn't throw it away. I told you how dangerous that man was. That was stupid.
    • Grace
  • Stupid or not, Tom was soon a passionate spokesman for locking Grace in her shed that night. If the vehicles were indeed a sign that the call Tom had placed five days earlier on behalf of the community to the number indicated on the card from his bureau drawer had at last led to action, and Grace was now to be eliminated from their lives, it would surely look good if the town had also locked her up.
    Grace was lying on the bed when Jason was sent up with the key. Grace heard it turn in the lock, but she was deeply absorbed by arguments and thoughts on matters she had otherwise avoided for the best part of a year now.

Chapter NINE[edit]

In which Dogville receives the long-awaited visit and the film ends
  • From the moment when they'd finally heard the sound of vehicles starting one after the other from the direction of the edge of the woods, things had moved rapidly. Tom had arranged a delegation to provide a proper reception. Dogville might be off the beaten track, but it was hospitable, nevertheless.
  • Tell me, has the crime rate really gone up in this country, as we are lead to believe? Maybe people just regard things as criminal, because they envy their success? What's your opinion on the subject? Maybe you have none. I'll get the door...sorry.
    • Tom
  • What the hell is this?
    • The Man In The Coat, on seeing Grace bound
  • Grace was no expert in exclusive automobiles, yet she recognized with no difficulty the sound of the vehicle that was rounding the corner from Canyon Road at that very moment. Alas, in Grace's memory the legendary purr of the Cadillac series 355 C was inextricably linked with another, rather less sophisticated sound: that of gunfire directed against her person.
  • Shooting at you certainly didn't help matters. Of course not. You're, far, far too stubborn.
    • The Big Man
  • Our last conversation, the one in which you told me what it was you didn't like about me, never really concluded — as you ran away. I should be allowed to tell you what I don't like about you. That I believe would be a rule of polite conversation.
    • The Big Man
  • To plunder, as it were, a God given right. I'd call that arrogant...
    • Grace
  • You do not pass judgement, because you sympathize with them. A deprived childhood and a homicide really isn't necessarily a homicide, right? The only thing you can blame is circumstances. Rapists and murderers may be the victims, according to you. But I, I call them dogs, and if they're lapping up their own vomit the only way to stop them is with the lash... Dogs can be taught many useful things, but not if we forgive them every time they obey their own nature.
    • The Big Man
  • Grace: So I'm arrogant. I'm arrogant because I forgive people?
    The Big Man: My God. Can't you see how condescending you are when you say that? You have this preconceived notion that nobody, listen, that nobody can't possibly attain the same high ethical standards as you, so you exonerate them. I can not think of anything more arrogant than that. You, my child, my dear child, you forgive others with excuses that you would never in the world permit for yourself.
  • You should be merciful, when there is time to be merciful. But you must maintain your own standard. You owe them that. You owe them that. The penalty you deserve for your transgressions, they deserve for their transgressions.
    • The Big Man
  • Does every human being need to be accountable for their action. Of course they do. But you don't even give them that chance. And that is extremely arrogant. I love you. I love you. I love you to death. But you are the most arrogant person I've ever met. And you call me arrogant! I have no more to say.
    • The Big Man
  • Grace: The people who live here are doing their best under very hard circumstances.
    The Big Man: If you say so, Grace. But is their best really good enough? Do they love you?
  • The difference between the people she knew back home and the people she'd met in Dogville had proven somewhat slighter than she'd expected.
  • Grace looked around at the frightened faces behind the windowpanes that were following her every step, and felt ashamed of being part of inflicting that fear. How could she ever hate them for what was at bottom merely their weakness?
  • Grace paused. And while she did, the clouds scattered and let the moonlight through and Dogville underwent another of those little changes of light. It was if the light, previously so merciful and faint, finally refused to cover up for the town any longer. Suddenly you could no longer imagine a berry that would appear one day on a gooseberry bush, but only see the thorn that was there right now. The light now penetrated every unevenness and flaw in the buildings... and in... the people! And all of a sudden she knew the answer to her question all to well: If she had acted like them, she could not have defended a single one of her actions and could not have condemned them harshly enough.
  • We can start by shooting a dog and nailing it to a wall. Over there beneath that lamp, for example. Well, it might help. It sometimes does.
    • The Big Man
  • It would only make the town more frightened, but hardly make it a better place. And it could happen again. Somebody happening by, revealing their frailty.
    • Grace
  • A man can't really be blamed for being scared now, can he?
    • Tom
  • Although using people is not very charming, I think you have to agree that this specific illustration has surpassed all expectations. It says so much about being human. It's been painful, but I think you also have to agree it has been edifying. Wouldn't you say?
    • Tom
  • If there is any town this world would be better without, this is it.
    • Grace
  • Tell her you will stop if she can hold back her tears. I owe her that. I'm afraid she cries a little too easily.
    • Grace, giving instructions to executioners working for the Big Man.
  • We've better get you out of here. I'm afraid, you've learned far too much already.
    • The Big Man
  • You want the curtains opened? You don't need them anymore.
    • Driver
  • I think we should open them. I think it's appropriate.
    • Grace
  • Tom: Bingo Grace! Bingo! I have to tell you, your illustration beat the hell out of mine. It's frightening, yes, but so clear. Do you think that I can allow myself to use it as an inspiration in my writing?
    Grace: Goodbye, Tom.
  • Some things you have to do yourself.
    • Grace
  • Whether Grace left Dogville or on the contrary, Dogville had left her (and the world in general) is a question of a more artful nature that few would benefit from by asking and even fewer by providing an answer. And nor indeed will it be answered here.

Quotes about Dogville[edit]

Alphabetized by author
  • Shocks, galvanizes, and exhilarates.
    • Jeanne Aufmuth, Palo Alto Weekly
  • Von Trier's contempt for humanity is becoming harder to hide with stylistic flourish. He doesn't even try here, and his arrogance is topped only by his misanthropy.
    • Sean Axmaker The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • Singular and unforgettable — the work of a brilliant crackpot.
    • Joe Baltake in The Sacramento Bee
  • This examination of selfishness, xenophobia and the human ability to rationalize acts of horror may have audience members squirming not with outrage but recognition.
    • John Beifuss in Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
  • Optimistic viewers may debate how much of a handle he has on human nature. But he's clearly got a handle on his own views, and presents them in a way that is impossible to ignore or discount completely. You can loathe Dogville because it represents a concession to the basest ideas of human greed and cruelty, but you can't deny that it makes those ideas feel frighteningly real.
  • Dogville isn't for everyone, but there's some intellectually stimulating conversation fodder for those with the patience to navigate the film's rough terrain.
    • James Berardinelli in Reelviews
  • Brilliant and infuriating, wise and naïve, outrageous yet unforgettable.
    • Jami Bernard in The New York Daily News
  • Continuing his stubborn, aesthetically pathbreaking ways, Lars von Trier has produced, in Dogville, a masterpiece that is nearly unwatchable.
  • Yes, all the rumours are true. Dogville is vile, hilarious... and essential.
    • Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly
  • Lars von Trier is probably a genius. This doesn't stop him from being a jerk.
    • Robert W. Butler in The Kansas City Star
  • The film equivalent of an early 80s West Coast punk rock demo: low budget, unfocused fury from deep within that not everyone will agree with, but with undeniable primal power.
    • Larry Carroll, Filmstew.com
  • Rich with meaning or a sublime prank, Dogville gets to you.
    • Jeannette Catsoulis in The Las Vegas Mercury
  • A simple tale, told so well while being so revealing. There are many reasons why it shouldn't work, but because it does, it feels magical.
    • Jeffrey Chen in Window to the Movies
  • Uncompromising filmmaking that's both artistic and powerfully entertaining.
    • Rich Cline, Shadows On The Wall
  • It's a pity that the political point-scoring at Cannes, admittedly fired up by Von Trier's provocateur stance, has diminished the perception of Dogville's artistic worth. Dogville is daunting, non-naturalistic and bold. Von Trier has denied it was intended as an antithesis of Billy Wilder's Our Town; his concerns in the film are bigger than America-bashing. It's a moral parable for our times.
    • Mary Colbert in Boxoffice Magazine
  • Dogville is a love-it-or- hate-it experience, but one that will fill a large space in any viewer's imagination.
    • Colin Covert in The Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • For a movie with such bold visual designs and high-flown rhetorical ambitions, it seems almost reactionary to say that it works because the performances are so good.
    • Nick Davis at Nick's Flick Picks
  • Von Trier supplies enough of an intellectual apparatus to give Dogville the veneer of art, but at its core this is a hollow, mean-spirited work.
    • Daniel Eagan in Film Journal International
  • Dogville can be defended and even praised on pure ideological grounds, but most moviegoers, even those who are sophisticated and have open minds, are going to find it a very dry and unsatisfactory slog through conceits masquerading as ideas.
  • It is a valiant but risky attempt and, truth be told, it is only partially successful.
    • Michael Elliott, Movie Parables
  • The acting is ice cold. The dialogue is lethargic. And if we're going to sit through any movie that's 177 minutes, it better have some Hobbits in it. There are no Hobbits here, so stay home.
    • E! Online
  • For courage and sheer audacity in form and plot, no filmmaker on the world stage currently matches Lars von Trier... Make of the provocation what you will, but don't miss this completely unique and extraordinary movie by one of the world's most adventurous directors on top of his game.
    • Jürgen Fauth at About.com
  • You don't so much enjoy watching it as you simply appreciate the genius that went into its creation.
    • Phoebe Flowers, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • Has rarely been far from my mind in the 10 months following Cannes, during which time it has grown only richer, deeper and more complex than I initially estimated.
    • Scott Foundas in L.A. Weekly
  • This brilliantly acted film is a highly stylized, surprisingly successful experiment that sits somewhere between theater and cinema.
    • Ken Fox, TV Guide's Movie Guide
  • The daring, artistic brilliance of Dogville far outshines any negative interpretation we may have of the work. It's to be praised for inspiring varying interpretations and generating debate.
    • Jack Garner in The Rochester Democrat And Chronicle
  • An experience that's both grueling and, in its way, glorious.
    • Lance Goldenberg in the Weekly Planet
  • This acerbic "illustration" of a small town’s curious notions of entitlement unspools as a Christian allegory by way of Mark Twain or Dr. Seuss.
    • Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
  • Slow-moving but engrossing, it feels shorter, and any reservations you may have about the unorthodox approach are washed away by its unexpected and purgative ending.
    • Eric Harrison in The Houston Chronicle
  • Sarcastic humor, inventive staging and a brutal story combine to give Dogville the force of a bonfire, incendiary and beautiful.
    • Chris Hewitt in St. Paul Pioneer Press
  • For passion, originality, and sustained chutzpah, this austere allegory of failed Christian charity and Old Testament payback is von Trier's strongest movie — a masterpiece, in fact.
    • J. Hoberman in The Village Voice
  • While you watch the movie, it can seem ridiculously long-winded... But once it's over, its characters' miserable faces remain etched in your memory, and its cynical message lingers.
  • Brutally masterful allegory.
    • Peter Howell in The Toronto Star
  • Dogville is as deeply insightful as it is deeply disturbing, a movie that will challenge you intellectually and punish you emotionally. Put as succinctly as possible, Dogville is a "holy fuck!" movie going experience... The first great film of '04.
  • Damn if I didn't completely forget to hate Dogville, and if I wasn't, three hours later, completely blown out of my little mind and right into the screening room next door.... You wanna see what our town is like? Here it is, in all its mean, petty, horrible smallness. It's not particularly about American meanness or pettiness or smallness, though some have accused von Trier of being anti-American — it's about human meanness, etc. The only thing "anti" about Dogville is that it might be called an anti-epic — an ambitious movie with a big cast and a marathon runtime that's about how small and insular and selfish people can be, about the miserable depths to which human beings can sink in their cruelty to others. Nationality's got nothing to do with it, though the ability to wield power over other human beings might, and so there might be some pertinent application to America as a whole right now. But everyone will — or should — recognize the universality of this, the worst side of humanity.
  • Aesthetically sparse and thematically audacious, the searing work of a genuine provocateur
    • James Kendrick, at the Q Network Film Desk
  • Dogville is no different from von Trier's earlier parables of vulnerability and brutality. And like those works, it is the staggering, infuriating work of a visionary filmmaker.
    • Lisa Kennedy in The Denver Post
  • It would take a true knucklehead not to understand that Dogville isn’t so much Anywhere, U.S.A., as anywhere. It really is a masterpiece — von Trier’s first, as it happens.
  • I hate it, yet I'm fascinated by the magnitude of the ambition and the failure to realize it.
    • Bruce Kirkland in Jam! Movies
  • Who but von Trier could make such a film? Who else would dare?
    • Liam Lacey in The Globe And Mail
  • Without a doubt one of the most brilliant films I have had the chance to experience.
    • Kevin N. Laforest in the Montreal Film Journal
  • This is a seriously important film and a huge achievement.
    • Mick LaSalle, The San Francisco Chronicle
  • Nearly as powerful as Von Trier's Dancer in the Dark.
    • Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press
  • Imprints itself on the consciousness and hauntingly lingers.
    • Arthur Lazere, Culturevulture.net
  • A stunning display of a filmmaker adventuring on the far side of what's possible.
    • Megan Lehmann in The New York Post
  • A marvel — but the film's stylized technique makes great demands on cast and audience alike.
    • Donald J. Levit in Reeltalk Movie Reviews
  • Dogville is in no way a standard film and likely won't appeal to many. But Von Trier is so inventive, so outlandish and so filled with energy he has to at least be admired.
    • Tom Long in The Detroit News
  • It's simply a movie whose bite is as harsh and hard as its bark.
    • Bob Longino in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • A tenacious, brutal drama that dares you to turn your back.
    • Glenn Lovell in The San Jose Mercury News
  • It's a bleak view of humanity expounded here, giving much food for thought, and for meditation on the concepts of humanity, tolerance, acceptance.
    • Jean Lowerison in The San Diego Metropolitan
  • A satanic Our Town.
    • Eric Lurio, Greenwich Village Gazette
  • A punishing film to sit through, and its rewards may well depend on how much credit you wish to give von Trier for doing something different. Because, for better or worse, Dogville is unlike anything else you'll see on screens this year.
    • Moira MacDonald in The Seattle Times
  • This unique cinematic experience is a parable of greed and revenge that could take place anywhere.
    • Marc Mohan in The Oregonian
  • The only thing simple you can say about Dogville is that it's a masterpiece.
    • Kim Morgan, Reel.com
  • Dogville is another round of brazen disrespect from cinema's baddest boy. But the movie, despite its ultimate nuttiness, has a quiet, consuming power that sneaks up on you and doesn't go away.
    • Wesley Morris in The Boston Globe
  • Utterly engrossing.
    • Scott Nash, Three Movie Buffs
  • It's a tough sit through tough questions.
    • Richard Nilsen in The Arizona Republic
  • I'd be hard-pressed to argue that the gloomy Dane wants anyone to actually like Dogville." Yes, it plays like a baldfaced, brazen insult, but it is a stunningly accomplished one. It hurts, but maybe it should.
  • Controversial, intelligent and daring, Dogville features a career-best performance from Nicole Kidman... At three hours it certainly stretches the patience, and any movie inspired by German playwright Berthold Brecht isn't likely to have mass audience appeal. But for all the ideas being examined, it works as a compelling drama too, and the acting is excellent... Dogville is a shock to the system.
  • Running a painfully long three hours, Dogville is pretentious with a capital 'P.
    • Steve Rhodes in Internet Reviews
  • Maddening, challenging and audacious, Dogville is an unlikely masterpiece.
    • Rene Rodriguez in The Miami Herald
  • Kidman, in a performance as emotionally stark as any she's ever given, makes Grace's journey achingly real, even though everything around her is deliberately artificial.
    • James Sanford in the Kalamazoo Gazette
  • You just have to see it to believe it. Frankly, I have never seen anything like it, which is not to say that it's good or bad, but it is different and even original.
    • Andrew Sarris in The New York Observer
  • It's the best stage play you've ever attended, and you feel as if you're right in the middle of it.
    • Steve Schneider in The Orlando Weekly
  • Dogville is conjured out of chalk outlines and stark stage effects. The floor plans of the tiny houses are stenciled on the ground, as are invisible streets and phantom landmarks like the prized gooseberry bushes and the nonexistent dog whose nonetheless audible bark signals the arrival of a stranger. …  Young Tom Edison, worried without any obvious reason that the town is in need of moral rearmament, wishes for a test of its virtues, a real-life illustration (one of his favorite words) of his vague notions of community and responsibility. Grace, who is fleeing from big-city gangsters, seems to offer a perfect opportunity. She is reluctant to impose on the town's kindness but also utterly helpless. Dogville rises to the challenge of her presence by opening its arms in generosity, and then enclosing her in a pious, self-justifying embrace of indentured servitude, humiliation and, eventually, sexual slavery. … One of the film's grimmest scenes, the first of several rapes, takes place in one of the houses, and the camera pulls back through the invisible walls to the streets of the town, where the other Dogvilleans are going about their desultory business. Their obliviousness to what is taking place in the children's bedroom over at Vera and Chuck's house seems like a malign and active refusal to acknowledge it, a symbol of the repressive, willed innocence that is among the town's many sins. The people of Dogville are proud, hypocritical and never more dangerous than when they are convinced of the righteousness of their actions.
  • Challenging, dramatic, provocative.
    • David Sterritt in The Christian Science Monitor
  • It stalks silently, stark with its minimalism at first, and then pounces unexpectedly with an overwhelming wash of emotion like a rabid animal, with sharp piercing teeth.
    • Michael Szymanski at Zap2it.com
  • Dogville is not a cry of rage against America — it's a cry of rage against all mankind. It demands to be seen but not to be loved.
    • Joshua Tanzer in OFFOFFOFF
  • No matter how you come down on this movie politically, Dogville is a compelling chamber piece with constant cinematic surprises.
    • Desson Thomson in The Washington Post
  • Dogville is a film that, in its flooring penultimate chapter, reverses the usual tables, only to implicate von Trier himself, whose self-criticism here is every bit as incisive as any vitriol spewed America's way... Whether you admire this film or flat-out despise it, you certainly won't walk away unaffected. It's as devastating as it is deeply troubling... I was breathless and more genuinely shaken up than I've been by a film in a very long time.
  • For all the plot detours and dead spots, this is strong, stinging filmmaking. Von Trier, light years from the formula doggerel at the multiplex, delivers something rare these days: a film of ideas.
  • A masterpiece.
    • Joe Utichi in FilmFocus
  • Has the discipline to properly challenge us, to incite discussion on any number of topics, and to leave us with something to think about the next time we look in the mirror.
    • Rob Vaux in the Flipside Movie Emporium
  • Philosophy and politics aside, von Trier has forgotten to make a movie worth watching, create a single sympathetic character or write dialogue that isn't prattle.
    • James Verniere in The Boston Herald
  • Dogville is not a masterpiece, nor is it an embarrassment. But it is a cinematic Rorschach test, as much fun to praise and to scorn as it is to watch.
    • Chris Vognar in The Dallas Morning News
  • Though certainly a failure in some respects, Dogville may be the most fascinating, richly accomplished screw-up you'll see all year.
    • Michael Wilmington in The Chicago Tribune
  • This isn't cynicism. It's nihilism. And its brilliant, infuriating display here proves again that Von Trier — exciting, maddening Von Trier — may be finding unusual new ways to say things just as he's running out of things to say.
    • Stephen Whitty in The Newark Star-Ledger

External links[edit]

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