Follow American Leopold Kessler on board the German train Zentropa in the year 1945. He starts working as a conductor and things are going well and he meets a girl. But it becomes clear after a while that everyone's only interest in Leopold is to use him for their own advantages and Leopold can't take it anymore.
"Europa" is the final part of the trilogy with the same name. The other two being "The Element of Crime" and "Epidemic", two very good experimental twists on two different familiar genres. "Europa" is the Lars von Trier take on Germany '45. It's not historically correct, of course, and groups such as the Werwolf organization. Here they play a much bigger part than I can imagine they did back then. But all that is forgiven since the movie isn't at all about the WWII, but rather about what is happening on board on the Zentropa train when the young American man Leopold Kessler starts working there as a sleeping car conductor. He is trained to do everything right and between work (and during) he has meetings with a woman, Katharina Hartmann. Katharina is the daughter of the Zentropa owner, Max. After Max slits his wrists in a bathtub, things slowly start changing for the worse for Leopold. He is put in front of a huge decision that could cost lives, and to top it all off he notices how everyone only wants him for their own personal gain. During all of this we have a voice inside of Leopold's head who is hypnotizing him.
I'll bring up my own personal differences with this movie right away. It's a WWII movie. Yes, a drama that takes place around the time of WWII and doesn't really include the war, but that's enough for me. I have never been a fan of war movies and rarely WWII movies. The entire setting is completely wrong for me from start. So the fact that I liked both previous trilogy entries more than this one is completely a personal opinion.
Much like in the previous films the story is merely resting on the very steady style of the film. It's the most technical entry in the trilogy and is simply stunning to watch in all it's black and white madness. Now and then we get glimpses of color, such as blood and some selected character scenes. I'm not gonna go into the popular opinion that Spielberg was inspired by this when he made "Schindler's List", even if it seems like an odd coincident. Either way, it looks great and there are some scenes in the film that are incredible. They make the movie worth watching all on their own.
Other than completely technical shots and stunning visuals, the film is pretty funny at times. The drama didn't really get to me as it mostly felt quirky. This is part to blame why it's the worst one in the trilogy for me, I just couldn't get into the story enough as I wasn't sure what they wanted out of it themselves. I think it has a great ending but up until that point it's floating somewhere above us so we can never really reach it. Not a surprise from Lars von Trier, a man who can make a film only to annoy people. But I don't consider this a good thing for the movie.
Overall it's satisfactory when the end credits start to roll. You've wondered plenty of times during the film where it was all meant to go and I suppose you can't deny that the ending makes up for it and ties it together rather nicely. Remember that the cinematography and the visuals are just as important, if not more, than the story of the film and I think you will like this one. It's filled with plenty of characters but few of them shine - kudos to Jean-Marc Barr who plays Leopold for giving us a very likable character in a movie that really needed it. It's a good movie but I'm surprised that most people consider this the best in the trilogy.