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Title: The politics of gift-giving and the provocation of Lars Von Trier's Dogville
Authors: Nobus, DM
Keywords: Lars Von Trier;Dogville;Gift-giving;Politics;Film Theory;Psychoanalysis;Philosophy;Lacan
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: Film-Philosophy
Citation: Film-Philosophy, 2007, 11 (2), pp. 23 - 37
Abstract: In what follows, I wish to use the circumstances and dynamics of the nocturnal scene of destruction at the Old Mill and the subsequent scene of carnage at the house of Chuck and Vera in Dogville as a springboard for developing some reflections on the ‘politics of gift-giving’, and the relationship between friendship and hostility in the exchange of social goods. The term ‘springboard’ is no doubt too vague, here, because I intend to approach the two scenes, and the film as a whole, as a radical provocation, thus distinguishing my approach from the traditional methodology of ‘application’, in which a work of art is used in order to exemplify a certain theoretical construction. As it happens, ‘provocation vs. illustration’ in itself constitutes one of the key ‘moral’ antagonisms of von Trier’s film and, as I shall argue, it is the dogged determination of Tom Edison Jr. (Paul Bettany), the town’s amateur-philosopher, moral lecturer and self-crowned “miner of the human soul”, to illustrate the human problem and his failure to be provoked which brings unrest to the township of Dogville and which finally makes it go to the dogs.
ISSN: 1466-4615
Appears in Collections:Dept of Life Sciences Research Papers

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