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Politics, Theory, and FilmCritical Encounters with Lars von Trier$
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Bonnie Honig and Lori J. Marso

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600181

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600181.001.0001

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Blind Spots and Double Vision

Blind Spots and Double Vision

National and Individual Fantasy in Dancer in the Dark

(p.169) 7 Blind Spots and Double Vision
Politics, Theory, and Film

Victoria Wohl

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the connection between the politics of Dancer in the Dark (2000) and its cinematic form, by examining the relation between the protagonist Selma’s own private fantasies and the nation’s own fantasy, the American dream. Adopting the film’s guiding metaphor of blindness and vision, the chapter examines the double vision required to sustain the American dream and the blind spots produced by this effort. Chief among these is the protagonist herself. Von Trier grants Selma visibility but also thereby makes her available to a predatory nation. In so doing, he provides a prop to the very ideology he is overtly critiquing. This political paradox is worked through at the level of cinematic style and resolved in the film’s own double vision of its protagonist. Both visible and invisible, this obscure subject exposes the political risks and possibilities of Dancer’s subjective mode of filmmaking.

Keywords:   Dancer in the Dark, Selma, blindness, double vision, vision themes, individual fantasy, national fantasy, American dream, subjective filmmaking, political risks

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