Europa (known as Zentropa in North America) is a 1991 Danish art drama film directed by Lars von Trier. It is von Trier’s third theatrical feature film and the final film in his Europa trilogy following The Element of Crime (1984) and Epidemic (1987). Europa was influenced by Franz Kafka‘s Amerika, and the title was chosen “as an echo” of that novel.
A young, idealistic American hopes to “show some kindness” to the German people soon after the end of World War II. In US-occupied Germany, he takes on work as a sleeping car conductor for the Zentropa railway network, falls in love with a femme fatale, and becomes embroiled in a pro-Nazi terrorist conspiracy.
Europa employs an experimental style of cinema, combining largely black and white visuals with occasional intrusions of colour having actors interact with rear-projected footage, and layering different images over one another to surreal effect. The voice-over narration uses an unconventional second-person narrative imitative of a hypnotist
The film’s characters, music, dialogue, and plot are self-consciously melodramatic and ironically imitative of film noir conventions.
spacetime coordinate: April – May 1945, Germany / Battle of Berlin / the Führerbunker
Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a 2004 German-Italian-Austrian historical war drama film depicting the final 12 days of Adolf Hitler‘s rule over Nazi Germany in 1945. It was based on several histories of the period.
The film begins with an excerpt from the documentary Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary (2002), featuring the real Traudl Junge expressing her guilt and shame for admiring Hitler in her youth. The film continues showing Hitler (Bruno Ganz) hiring Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) as his secretary at the Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia in November 1942.
The story resumes on 20 April 1945, the Führer’s birthday, during the Battle of Berlin.
spacetime coordinate: the north of Germany during the years before World War I
Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (literally, “The White Ribbon, a German Children’s Story”) darkly depicts society and family in a northern German village just before World War I and, according to Haneke, “is about the roots of evil. Whether it’s religious or political terrorism, it’s the same thing.”
The memories of an unnamed elderly tailor form a parable from the distant year he worked as a village schoolteacher and met his fiancée Eva, a nanny. The setting is the Protestant village of Eichwald, Germany, from July 1913 to 9 August 1914, where the local pastor, the doctor and the baron rule the roost over the area’s women, children and peasant farmers.