The year 2000 was my last full year living in Toronto before moving to Ottawa the following year. At the end of the summer of 2000, I moved to an apartment in Roncesvalles village and fell in with the neighbourhood. It wasn’t quite as hip and happening as it is now but it had some cool shops and restaurants and also a repertory theatre called The Revue. I spent a lot of time in that theatre, being that it was only a block from my building and admission being only slightly more than renting a DVD. I don’t remember all of the films I watched there but I definitely remember seeing “Dancer in the dark”.
The film is one not easily forgotten. Indeed, it is a real feel bad movie.
Directed by Lars Von Trier, it features Björk as Selma, a nearly blind, factory-working, single mother who escapes her existence to a daydream world of Hollywood musical numbers. I’ve heard (but cannot confirm this) that Von Trier came up with the film’s concept and hand-selected Björk for the starring role after seeing her music video for “Oh so quiet”. She wrote all the music for the film and co-wrote the lyrics with Von Trier and Sjón. Björk then released the songs on a nine-song album called “Selmasongs”. The highlight number in both the film and the soundtrack is the breathtaking “I’ve seen it all”, a song for which she received an Oscar nomination for best original song. This, of course, led to an outstanding performance at the ceremony, where she wore the “swan” dress, which sadly, is more remembered than said performance.
On the version of “I’ve seen it all” on “Selmasongs”, she duets beautifully with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke (singing the parts sung by Peter Stormare in the film) over a jarring rhythm line that morphs from the chugging of a train at the intro. Strings abound and you can almost see the technicolor images of Thom Yorke as Jeff, a man in love with Selma, as he tries to convince her to use her life savings to correct her vision. Meanwhile, Selma has long-since decided to selflessly use it to prevent her son from suffering her fate from the same degenerative disease. He pleads with her, listing the things she’s never experienced, “You’ve never been to Niagara Falls?” But Björk is unshaken. “I have seen water, its water, that’s all.”
Heart-breaking, much like her performance in the film.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2000 list, click here.