Synopsis: After gangster Mulligan's cars colony, fleeing northern justice, finds a hiding place in Alabama, spoiled, naive daughter Grace refuses to travel on after seeing the Manderlay cotton plantation being run under slavery rules, called Mam's law, inclusive flogging. She keeps half of dad's goons as guard to force the dying matriarch-owner's heirs, which she shamelessly dispossesses and reduces to 'staff', to taste destitution under absurd, gun-imposed contracts. The 'slaves' are made free partners, supposed to vote for progress after lessons from Grace. But almost all her democracy-pupils prove fickle, dumb and selfish, except old Willem. Her and their ignorance in Southern planting and crafty Dixie ways means more problems are created then solved. By the time dad returns to pick her up or abandon her for good, she's the one who has learned and changed the most.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Lars von Trier
Production: IFC Films
  1 win & 15 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
139 min

It was in the year of 1933,

and Grace and her father were

heading southward

with their army of gangsters.

After leaving Dogville,

they had returned to Denver

only to find that the mice

had been well and truly playing

while the cat was away,

and new forces had taken over

their former possessions.

The result was a particularly

unappealing retreat that had brought them

through the state of Alabama

this spring

in search of new hunting grounds.

Now, they will not admit it,

but it's a fact.

Deep down inside,

there isn't a woman alive

who doesn't nurture

these fantasies...

whether they involve harems,

being hunted through the jungle

by torch-bearing natives.

However much they go on and on

about civilization and democracy,

sexy it ain't.

Grace and her father

had resumed their legendary discord

even as they pulled out of Dogville,

and although Grace

had been employing the technique

of letting things go in

one ear and out the other

for a pretty long time now,

she was, to be frank, somewhat weary

of her unbearably overweening daddy

who still believed any nagging woman

could be pacified

with a good old

bouquet of carnations.

I bet you wouldn't have had

the guts to talk like that

if Mother had been alive.

No. You're right, my girl.

I would not.

We're goins', boss.

Miss? Lady?

Can I talk to you?

Can I talk to you?


They gonna whip him.

I knew they would.

It just ain't true;

he ain't stole nothin'

They put that Rhenish wine

from Mam's bedside table in his cabin

just to give 'em

something to whip him for.

That's the law...

one bottle and it's a whippin'

That's Mam's law.

What are you talking about?

Who? Who are they gonna whip?



That's how they do us slaves.

- Slaves?

- Yes, ma'am.

Surely you heard of slaves.

It's what we is at Manderlay.

This godforsaken place.

That's how I got out.

When a whippin's in the offin',

they take out a section of the fence.

Listen, Grace,

it's a local matter.

It's not for us to poke our noses in.

Why should we not

poke our noses in

- just because it's a local matter?

- It's certainly not our responsibility.

You think the Negroes

wanted to leave their homes in Africa?

Wasn't it us who brought them

to America?

We have done them

a great wrong.

It's our abuse that has

made them what they are.

Untie him.


'Fraid not, lady.

Slavery was abolished

70 years ago.

If you won't obey that law

of your own accord,

we will compel you to do so.

Help me get her inside.

Get water for Mam.

Act quickly, Rose.

Spare me your hypocrisy.

You dumb old slave.

Get out!

Leave us alone.

If you're looking for sympathy,

don't expect any from me.


I'm very old...

...unfortunately dying.

I should like to ask you

for a favor.

If it involves allowing you to go on

exploiting these people like slaves,

I'm sorry, I'll just have to say no,

no matter how dying you are.

Slavery's over now.

I can see that.

It had to come one day.

All right.

I'll probably refuse you,

but you might as well ask.

There's a book

under my mattress.

I should like you to retrieve it...

...and burn it for me.

- It would be best for everyone.

- I'm sure you think so.

But it's my view that anything,

no matter what,

is best served by being

brought out into the open.

I beg you,

one woman to another.

Woman to woman...

makes no difference to me.

The sins of the past are sins

I cannot and do not wish to help you erase.

Now I must leave you.

I believe my father's men

have unlocked the gates.

Now everybody can come

and go as they please.

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Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier (born Lars Trier; 30 April 1956) is a Danish film director and screenwriter with a prolific and controversial career spanning almost four decades. His work is known for its genre and technical innovation; confrontational examination of existential, social, and political issues; and his treatment of subjects such as mercy, sacrifice, and mental health.Among his more than 100 awards and 200 nominations at film festivals worldwide, von Trier has received: the Palme d'Or (for Dancer in the Dark), the Grand Prix (for Breaking the Waves), the Prix du Jury (for Europa), and the Technical Grand Prize (for The Element of Crime and Europa) at the Cannes Film Festival. In March 2017, he began filming The House That Jack Built, an English-language serial killer thriller.Von Trier is the founder and shareholder of the international film production company Zentropa Films, which has sold more than 350 million tickets and garnered seven Academy Award nominations over the past 25 years. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Manderlay" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 7 Jun 2023. <>.

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