18. aug. 2010 | 08:00

The Dimension Manifest

Foto | Rolf Konow

Lars von Trier og hans faste manuskriptmakker Niels Vørsel skrev i 1990 et manifest på engelsk til 30-års-filmen Dimension. I anledning af Ekkos udgivelse af den ufærdige film bringer vi  her manifestet i sin fulde længde.

Af Lars von Trier og Niels Vørsel

However omnipresent time – the so-called fourth dimension – may be, we describe and maybe even ”experience” it as if it were invisible and quite impossible to depict. To us, its presence is only known from what we generally regard as its ceaseless march – a march we in our cultural hemisphere typically describe with the help of various verbal inflections. The effect of this march of time is at once aging and rejuvenating on organic as well as inorganic, natural and man-made materials, and in this process time is what we might call a waste product.

Our idea is to make a feature film, with the march of time as its all-prevailing undercurrent. A film that not only presents, in ”documentary” form, the march of time as inherent to the action it decorates, but also as a suspense-creating element – ”the pursuer of all living things”.

In order to visualize the march of time in the actors and their surroundings as concretely as possible – that is to say, without the aid of the medium’s characteristic use of illusory effects – we have decided upon a production time of about 30 years with premiere in 2024. In other words, we intend to concentrate a span of about 30 years into a feature film of about 100 minutes (the present normal length) and produce a good 3 minutes of effective running time per annum.

As to how people – their situation, surroundings and products – will change, and what they will change into by the year 2024, as the result of political, economic, technological, climatic, linguistic and other developments, no one, as we all know, can tell us. Nor do we know which of us will still be alive in 10, 20 or 30 years time.

Thus, we wish as far as possible to guarantee the completion of the film by drawing up and appending wills to the final contracts. These will transfer to others the responsibility for any of the jobs on the film team that might become vacant in the intervening interval as the result of death or serious disablement.

Time has always constituted an unavoidable – and often regular – element of every dramatic work. In this film we wish to employ time in a non-fictional manner by making use, though in concentrated form, of its actual passage, whereupon it will become more manifest – as an active and absolutely veracious factor – than in any film hitherto.

Naturally, in the case of a draft plan for a feature film as outlined here, - where, with the help of a typical film team (actors, technicians, instructor, scriptwriter and producer), we move about 30 years into the future, precisely in order, dramaturgically speaking, to make the very most of the time factor – to start the production with a ready-made script already specifying which scenes, with dialogue, are to be shot in 2007, would directly conflict with our aim. Thus, on the script level, our idea is to formulate the necessary and sufficient starting point for the characters involved – a zero point for the action – and let time, with the influence it has on everything and everybody, be a dummy; which doesn’t mean to say that it is any less important as a partner in the further development of the drama.

A film production that lasts 30 years can also give immediate rise to speculations of a technical nature. Will films as a medium still exist in 2024, or will the electronic – or other hitherto unknown media – have conquered the entire field by then? Before starting production, therefore, we wish to do some technical research centring, for example, around the normative strategies adopted by the film and similar industries, in the hope of being able to make a financially wise and well-timed choice of shooting technique.

Thirty years is a long time – half a human lifetime, and an unheard-of duration for a film production. In retrospect, however, 30 years is not an incredibly long period, really amounting only to a couple of brief flashbacks, despite everything that happens to the human and global substance. In several productions the film media has turned historical material and human memory to its own advantage, precisely, like history, by turning to look at what has already happened. In such cases the medium has adopted the same curious attitude as the audience, we might say. In this project our memory is forward-looking, as it were – and naturally the major part of this film’s potential audience has not yet come into being. At the premiere in 2024 the film, like all other historical films, will generally be regarded as retrospective, but in this case the intervening thirty years will be truthfully depicted, because the shooting of this historical film will take place parallel with the period of the time covering the change of century.

DIMENSION is a grand idea. It is easy to visualize this film drama enacted on the stage of the future United Europe, and the interest in DIMENSION will most certainly spread far beyond the circles in which films are normally financed and consumed, solely on account of its tremendous perspectives as a work of art.

DIMENSION is a film that transgresses boundaries, geographical as well as cultural and conceptual …

There is a future in this new creation. 

Copenhagen, 5. October 1990

Lars von Trier and Niels Vørsel


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