The Element of Crime (1984)

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The element of crime plays like a Film Noir, set in a dystopian alternative universe, within the mind of David Lynch. Detective Fisher returns to Europe after a thirteen year stay in Ciarro, to catch a murderer responsible for the deaths of several young girls. Fisher takes an untested approach to investigating, after reading a book written by his old mentor entitled “The Element of Crime”. This book argues for an alternative method of understanding the human mind. It requires the researcher to relive the life of the one they are following, in order to gain a greater understanding of who that person is. Fisher soon finds himself, living the life of suspect Harry Grey, living in his home, interacting with his cohorts, and loving his former lover. Fisher’s sense of identity is challenged as his individuality becomes indistinguishable to that of Harry Grey. The film is encompassed in a reddish overtone, resembling an eternal twilight, which could either represent dawn or day break. The story is told from the point of view of a man attempting to recall his memories while in a hypnotic state. Fisher even deliberately skips certain parts of his story, declaring that they are pointless to recall and at times admits that he isn’t sure if certain parts of the story are true. ‘The Element of Crime” is a good introductory film for anyone interested in the works of director “Lars Von Trier” It’s unorthodox style of environment and story telling immerse the viewer head first into the mind of Lars Von Trier, showing them that the typical rules of story telling no longer apply.

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