Manderlay (2005)

Manderlay is the second heavy film in Lars von Trier's (Dancer in the Dark) thus far unfinished trilogy on American cities. This time he takes on the complexities of slavery, racism, and integration.

Grace, played by Dallas Bryce-Howard, is the optimist and willing to think that things can change with a little prodding when she happens upon Manderlay, an Alabaman plantation that still practices slavery in the 1930's. She immediately emancipates the slaves and becomes their advisors. She also penalizes the former slave owners. Human nature takes over on all three sides and the complexities are revealed in horrific proportions.

Stylistically, the film, like Dogville it's predecessor, is very unique. It is shot on a black set, like a stark play, with minimal set and props. I find this really keeps the film firmly focused on the harsh realities of the story.

I really like this film because it doesn't serve up answers, but rather exposes the United States unwillingness to face the issues as complex with no easy answers and with dignity.

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