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Summary: Manderlay is a plantation where a group of people are living as if slavery hadn't been abolished 70 years earlier. Upon leaving Dogville in 1933, Grace and her father head far south to the state of Alabama where they arrive upon the bizarre place.
It doesn't pack the emotional punch that Dogville does. We go into it with a certain expectation. This diminishes the power of the turn near the end of the film, which was already pretty weak to begin with.
like dogville, but rougher around the edges. the cast isn't as good, the visual style doesn't feel as polished, the ending wasn't as powerful. but this treatise on race, and in particular white man's burden, is nearly as pointed as the amazing first entry into this 2-film trilogy. which is a shame - the ending is obvious in its hint about the previously planned finale on washington. ah well. every feature by von trier, greatest director ever, has now been seen. well except images of liberation.
I generally admire Von Trier's courage, but making a movie about your prejudices about any other country than your own is pure bravado. The movie could not even come near to its predecessor from the acting/setting point of view. Actually the continuity between the movies is problematic, as Grace is a caricature of a liberal intellectual, which is not in line with her resolution to her ordeal in Dogville. Sometimes von Trier just tries too hard to be politically incorrect, it brings him down.
at one hand I kept feeling that whereas dogville was an amazing venture into a original way of story-telling with a subtle but extremely well-executed script, manderlay lacked the originality (for obvious reasons) and played in a different league with too obvious points being held high and not the same standards in terms of acting and overall quality to it. on the other hand I couldnt help but smiling at the brilliance of von trier while the ending credits were rolling.
A fascinating look at racism, slavery (both political and psychological), freedom and (the potential flaws of) idealism. It's a provocative piece of film-making, but is so explicit about its message and tries to cover so much that it can feel muddled at times (also it lacks the stylistic mastery of its superior prequel, Dogville). Still it really got me thinking and like Dogville it is manipulative in the best way making you reflect on the reactions it prompts from you early on in the film.
Widely damned, MANDERLAY is nearly as good as DOGVILLE--a bit less sprightly as cinema, but with a more challenging subject: the racial divide in American society. Von Trier satirizes white guilt, as the well-meaning Grace does not quite find her idealism rewarded. Bryce Dallas Howard, taking over the character, is right for this story; earnest, sympathetic, but just a bit overbearing. The rest of the cast is strong, and Von Trier's work--especially the powerful ending--is just as good as ever.