The Idiots is the second in Lars Von Trier's Dogma films, which was originally released in 1999. Dogma was an expression used to describe a spontaneous type of film making where hand held shaky cameras are used with a homemade documentary feel to the footage.
When The Idiots was first released it came out in a blaze of controversy, bad press and was heavily censored – although 10 years after release this film is no longer current, a quick 'google' search confirms that the debate about this film still continues.
This is my first viewing of the film, for various reasons I missed it when it was first released and because of the content of the film its only once been shown on UK TV (in its uncut version), so I was lucky to come across a copy of the DVD.
The basic premise of the film is that a group of educated middle class people decide that they want to 'spazz out' when in public. They pretend to be mentally handicapped, with no real explanation. At the films start, an ordinary member of the public Karen helps out one of the 'carers' and its only when she is in a car with them driving away does she realise it was all a hoax, she then joins the group who live in a sprawling mansion in the countryside. The group then go through a series of trips and visits where they act out their 'inner idiot' in public. The films main controversy surrounds the birthday party of Stoffer, which degenerates into an orgy, but there is so much more to the film than just this scene.
When real life intrudes on the group the audience gets possible glimpses into why they have chosen to live in this way. In the group they are happy, supportive and provide protection and love to each other without question. There are a series of pieces to camera, from some group members, which appear to be given retrospectively, in these the group is always spoken with affection and almost longing. The group decide to 'spazz' in front of family or loved ones – people who they really care about, to prove that they are happy with their 'inner idiot', this culminates in Karen's very shocking personal reasons for joining – a very shocking hard scene which will be with me for a long time.
I am very glad I have seen this film, even though it was uncomfortable, disturbing and unsettling. It left me with many questions and thoughts about disability, middle class ideals, perception and society. This film is not an easy view and its not entertainment but that's the beauty of cinema – as well as to entertain it also can be used to inform and question.
I have only been able to find this poor quality trailer for the film at the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com).
Directed by Lars Von Trier
Bodil Jurgensen – Karen
Jens Albinus – Stoffer
Anne Louise Hassing – Susanne
Troels Lyby – Henrik
Nikolaj Lie Kaas – Jeppe
Louise Mieritz – Josephine
Read more at: Nerve Curve