The Idiots

May 20th, 1998


The Idiots

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The group of people gather at the house in Copenhagen suburb to break all the limitations and to bring out the "inner idiot" in themselves.

Release Year: 1998

Rating: 6.8/10 (13,769 voted)

Critic's Score: 47/100

Stars: Bodil Jørgensen, Jens Albinus, Anne Louise Hassing

A group of perfectly intelligent young people decide to react to society's cult of an aimless, non-creative and non-responsible form of intelligence by living together in a community of "idiots". Their main activity becomes going out into the world of "normal" people and pretending to be mentally retarded. They take advantage of this situation to create anarchy everywhere they go and try by every possible means to make people annoyed, disturbed, miserable, ridiculous, angered, and shocked. The films start as they recruit a new lost soul and introduced her to their megalomaniac leader.

Bodil Jørgensen - Karen
Jens Albinus - Stoffer
Anne Louise Hassing - Susanne
Troels Lyby - Henrik
Nikolaj Lie Kaas - Jeppe
Louise Mieritz - Josephine
Henrik Prip - Ped
Luis Mesonero - Miguel
Knud Romer Jørgensen - Axel
Trine Michelsen - Nana
Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis - Katrine
Paprika Steen - High Class Lady
Erik Wedersøe - Stoffer's Uncle
Michael Moritzen - Man From Municipality
Anders Hove - Josephine's Father

Taglines: A film by idiots, about idiots, for idiots


Official Website: Dogme 95 collective |

Release Date: 20 May 1998

Filming Locations: Søllerød, Sjælland, Denmark

Box Office Details

Budget: $2,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $7,235 (USA) (30 April 2000) (2 Screens)

Gross: $845,001 (Denmark) (19 November 1998)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | South Korea: (cut)

Did You Know?

Written in four days as part of the Dogma 95 Manifesto.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: This is a film that adheres to the 'Dogme 95' manifesto, so the usual goof rules do not necessarily apply. This includes shots of the crew, microphones and other equipment, as well as continuity errors.

[Susanne puts a "spastic" Ped behind the van's steering wheel]
Guide at Factory: Who... is he driving?
Susanne: Responsibility does them good.
[Ped drives off recklessly]

User Review


Rating: 9/10

While not quite at the same level as _Breaking the Waves_, the only other Lars von Trier I have seen (his films are quite hard to come by in Midwestern American video stores, you understand), _The Idiots_ is still a great film, and, in some ways, is just as important.

I have to comment on a lot of the reviews I've seen for this movie. A lot of viewers judge the film by the theories and views about the group's existence (particularly the view spoken by the most outspoken of the Idiots, Stoffer). This is surely not the way von Trier meant his audience to take the film. If you paid any attention to the film, you'll notice that the Idiots' lifestyle is never glamorized. Everyone's experience in the group ends in embarrassment and despair. You should also note that none of the Idiots has the same opinion of why they like to act the idiot. Stoffer might say that they do it to upset the bourgeosie (I don't pretend to know how to spell that word), but the next person might be doing it just to play around. The artist (whose name escapes me at the moment) is doing it to become a better artist, and the doctor is doing it almost for experiment. There is never a reason for the groups' existence that the entire group agrees upon. This is extremely important for understanding this film.

The way _The Idiots_ particularly hit me was in the characterizations. The actors are so great in this film that they hit the level of: "Is this really acting, or is it just being?" von Trier hit the same level in _Breaking the Waves_. These actors were so good, their characters just jumped out of the script. There are many characters, and only a few of them are characterized in the script extensively. Stoffer, although not the main character, is the most prominent character in the script. Many of the characters don't have all that many lines or screen time, but I felt I knew them all well.

I also appreciated that it actually entertained me. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much. It is often very, very funny (if offensive). It also gripped me emotionally. I did not particularly comprehend the ending's meaning, but it left me with a powerful emotion. I did have tears in my eyes when I left the theater, and a lot of thoughts in my head. When a man outside the theater stopped me to ask me how I liked it, my lips and my brain were too dry to actually answer anything but, "I liked it. I liked it a lot." 9/10


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