The Idiots (Idioterne) (1998)

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Released 21-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Notes-Dogme Manifesto
Gallery-Stills
Filmographies-Crew-Lars Von Trier (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Breaking The Waves, Insomnia, Orlando
Trailer-The Draughtsman's Contract
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 109:32
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lars von Trier
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Bodil Jørgensen
Jens Albinus
Anne Louise Hassing
Troels Lyby
Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Louise Mieritz
Henrik Prip
Luis Mesonero
Knud Romer Jørgensen
Trine Michelsen
Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis
Paprika Steen
Erik Wedersøe
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Danish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

A film by idiots, about idiots, for idiots.

    Controversial Danish film maker Lars Von Trier has a habit of making films that generally upset people. His last venture, Dancer In The Dark, was so emotionally traumatising and depressing that many found it very difficult to sit through. The Idiots (Idiotern) is just as painful to sit through, although for an entirely different reason.

    The plot of The Idiots is fairly straightforward. A spoilt brat living for free in his uncle's house under the pretext of arranging it for sale, Stoffer (Jens Albinus), invites a bunch of friends over to stay. Without any money to get by, Stoffer comes upon the idea of 'spazzing', i.e. pretending to be retarded, in order to avail themselves of society's generosity. What starts out as a joke quickly becomes a way of life for him and his commune as they try to 'get in touch with their inner idiot' by constantly spazzing. But when Stoffer inadvertently brings shy newcomer Karen (Bodil Jorgensen) into the group through a spazzing episode, nobody could have guessed the outcome.

    Is this film offensive? Extremely. And in a way that is far more shocking than your general attempt at shock tactics through either gore or pure vulgarity. However, its truly horrible quality is that at times you really don't know whether to be shocked, to cry or to laugh. Some moments are genuinely funny, particularly in the way that Stoffer and his cohorts parody and mock the false graciousness and understanding of the rich and important. But other moments are really quite horrible and sad in the way that, through their 'spazzing' adventures, these people send up the misfortune of others and prey on the genuine generosity of some.

    Do I like The Idiots? Not especially. Do I respect what filmmaker Lars Von Trier has done with the film? One cannot help but do so. By creating a collective of such loathsome and horrible human beings, and yet making us laugh at their exploits, and in turn be uncomfortable in our laughter, Von Trier reminds us of our own hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the world at large when it comes to our compassions and our emotions. That is masterful film making, no matter how horrible The Idiots is to endure at times.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented here in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, this is unfortunately a letterboxed, non-16x9 enhanced, transfer. Apparently, though, the original aspect ratio is 1.33:1 so I’m not sure what to say about this.

    Given that this was filmed in accordance with Von Trier’s Dogme 95 Manifesto, this picture quality was never going to be fantastic. Essentially, the idea is that everything is real and nothing in the way of lighting, steady-cams and so forth are used.

    As a result, the picture is a touch grainy due to oversaturation to compensate for the lack of light used. Shadow detail is not fantastic, but it is not atrocious either.

    Colour is fairly well saturated, if you take into account any limitations of the source. This was, after all, filmed with a hand-held camera and not on Super 35 (it was filmed on Digital Betacam PAL video and transferred to film later).

    There were no MPEG artefacts, and film-to-video artefacts are hard to pick out given the nature of the original print, i.e. it was filmed on video and then transferred to film. I found no annoying aliasing or moire, though.

    There is a bit of dirt here, but again, this was not cleaned up with professional post-production work, and the dirt is all intended as part of the Dogme 95 charm.

    Subtitles are available in English only. They are white without a noticeable border, and sometimes a little difficult to read.

    According to the cover, this is a dual-layer DVD-9. However, I did not see a dual layer pause during the film and am informed that this is a single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is available in Danish 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono only.

    This film had a very limited source from which to make this DVD transfer, and so most of the limitations can be forgiven.

    Albeit in Danish, the dialogue was easy enough to hear. It’s hard to tell, though, because I was reading the subtitles the whole time.

    The dynamics of this track are unremarkable. There is no real score, and no surround information.

    There is no subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. The main menu has a 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio track.

Dogme Manifesto

    6 stills recording the Dogme 95 manifesto – a rescue of cinema.

Stills Gallery

    27 stills from the film.

Filmography

    2 stills listing Lars Von Trier’s filmography.

Theatrical Trailer (1:36)

    Presented in 1.33:1 letterboxed, 2.0 Dolby Mono.

Umbrella Trailers

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film is apparently banned in the US. There is not currently an R1 release

    The R4 release looks to be largely identical to the R2 release, except that the R2 release also includes:

    and the R4 release gets:

    instead.

    It would be interesting to know whether the R2 release includes any footage that the R4 release does not. For anybody with the R2 release, the running time for this release is 109:32. Please let me know if the R2 release is any different.

Summary

    The Idiots is a confronting and in many respects ugly film. It is highly offensive. But these are also its good points. While it is hard to actually like this film, it is also hard not to be affected by it, and therefore respect it for what it is trying to do.

    Video is good given the limitations of the source, though sadly not 16x9 enhanced.

    The mono soundfield does its job, but nothing more.

    The extras are fairly promotional, though it was interesting to read the Dogme 95 Manifesto.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880N Deluxe, using DVI output
DisplayHewlett Packard ep7120 DLP Projector with 80" Widescreen HDTV Projector Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersDigital Accoustics Emerald 703G - Centre, Front Left & Right, Rear Left & Right Satellites, Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
The Idiots censorship -
re:The Idiots censorship -
If its 109:32 I think its uncut. -
Banned in the US? -
Oh, and to be pedantic... -
UK edition -