Björk vs Mariah Carey

January 9, 2007 at 7:57 pm | Posted in Film, Plagiarism | 6 Comments

I’m always grateful when there are two or three nuggets in the pile of student assignments I have to plough through. Not to many these days, one has to concede, and that has a lot to do with the increasing amount of plagiarism – I’ve written about that before and hence won’t write about it again now. Use the categories menu on the right to retrieve these posts. Even the better assignments these days contain nicked intellectual property – sometimes just two to three lines, but that’s still enough to spoil the fun for me (and their chance of getting an A).

One of those rare nuggets that I got to read today was a comparison of Dancer in the Dark with Glitter. Europe vs America. Lars von Trier vs Vondie Curtis-Hall. Björk vs Mariah Carey. What a daring mix! But actually a rather proliferate one – two Godesses of popular culture starring as leading women in musical films, and in spite of minute acting experience.

Dancer in the Dark - Poster

Anyhow, if you haven’t seen Dancer in the Dark yet, put this down as the next item on your cultural to-do list. Just from reading the plot summary I felt liked I wanted to weep again.

Glitter - Mariah Carey

Glitter isn’t a must-see at all, but an interesting example of a pop star vehicle. A note on the side: This film’s release was delayed by three weeks because it was around that time that Mariah had her nervous breakdown… if that wasn’t to cast some doubt on the candyfloss world this film (and the corresponding album) tries to evoke.

With Björk in DDID the opposite seems to be the case: She becomes a vehicle for the tragic female protagonist, the extracted and newly embodier essence of hope, honesty, betrayal and despair, set to the tunes of a 1960s American musical. She took on the character of the heroine to such an extent that it became apparently unbearable (if not impossible) to interact with her on the set past shooting time. Lars von Trier has become infamous for being rude or even sadist with his actors – it’s this collaboration with Björk (or the lack of it) in particular that set the foundation for this rumour. Here’s a small teaser of an Interview with von Trier:

But then how were you able to finish Dancer in the Dark at all, with the war going on?

I honestly don’t know. Björk kept saying that she did not want to do the film, right from the beginning. It was ridiculous. I wanted to fire her. She screamed, “You can’t fire me”—it was all completely crazy. But somehow, this last scene when she is hung, I remember that very clearly, she didn’t want to see the gallows before at all-and then she played the scene extremely well. After that I said to her, when she was lying there, hyperventilating: could you maybe take out the second line of the dialogue and replace a certain word with another? Everybody thought, okay, now she will explode and die for real. But she didn’t say anything, we filmed it again-and she did it. Exactly right. She was really far out then, that wasn’t acting or feeling or whatever, but she was still, as a musician, completely in control.


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  1. Wow. As a student I love to find theoretical links or discrepancies between arbitrarily related texts. What did your student argue in the essay?

  2. It wasn’t an essay as such, but a comparative film review, but what it did point out was the function as a vehicle of both actresses: Different vehicles, different genres:-)

  3. vally

  4. i liked the movie glitter it wasnt that baad

  5. am i stupid for asking this but would it every be possible to read the essay? strangely enough they are my two favourite singers

    • I returned it to the student years ago!

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