This penetrating and mesmeric trip into the dark soul of Europe follows a young American pacifist of German descent who sojourns to post-WWII Deutschland in the belief that he can take part in the healing process of that devastated country. Once there, however, he finds himself snatched up in a nightmarish labyrinth of corruption and deceit involving American complicity in the reestablishment of the powerful industrialist families who had supplied the Nazis. Von Sydow's haunting narration sets the tone for the naive Yankee's hypnotic entry into the bizarre purgatory of occupied Germany. Shooting mostly in shimmering black and white, von Trier uses spot coloring, scrims and other overtly theatrical devices to great effect. Combined with some excellent performances, these add to the film's harrowing sense of impending doom and alienation.
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