How will 'Les Miserables' compare to these classics?
13. 'Dancer in the Dark'
That one of the greatest musicals of the last 50 years could simultaneously be one of the most depressing movies, period, of the last 50 years is a feat that could perhaps only have been accomplished by Danish provocateur Lars Von Trier. Shot with a handheld camera to give the film a "Dogme 95" aesthetic during its non-musical portions, "Dancer in the Dark" tells the heartbreaking story of immigrant factory worker Selma (Cannes Best Actress winner Bjork), who suffers one misery after another as she attempts to save enough money for an operation that will spare her young son the effects of the hereditary blindness disease that is slowly but inexorably destroying her vision. The weight of this at-times unbearably sad Dickensian tale is lifted only during the film's cathartic musical numbers, during which the colors grow brighter and the camerawork more fluid as Selma re-casts herself as a fleet-footed star of the type of Hollywood musical she regularly delights in at her local theater. The unusually polarized reception "Dancer in the Dark" was greeted with during its initial release - its Cannes premiere was famously met with an almost equal amount of boos as cheers - in many ways is a testament to the greatness of von Trier's reckless, imperfect vision.
- Chris Eggertsen