Dogville is a depressed Rocky Mountain township of fifteen or so struggling households.
Tom Edison, Jr. is the son of the townís physician and this position affords him the opportunity to be the town drift-about, would be writer/philosopher. Tom has organized a series of town meetings or, moral lectures. He has chosen acceptance as the topic of his next lecture, believing the good folk of Dogville have difficulty with acceptance, and he needs an illustration to prove his point. Enter a lady named Grace.
Grace Margaret Mulligan is fleeing the evils of the big city, and more specifically her prior life and association with the powerful gangsters of Georgetown whom she blames for taking her father from her. The nature of Graceís association with the gangsters of Georgetown, though significant, is only made clear at the end of the movie. Suffice it to say, Grace has never worked a day in her life and by her own self assessment, she considers herself arrogant and has determined to teach herself humility. She could never imagine how appropriate Dogville for this undertaking.
At the very next town meeting, Tom relays Graceís story to the townsfolk. He then coaxes them into demonstrating that they are good people by giving Grace shelter with no expectation of benefit in return. To show her appreciation, Grace offers her labor to Dogville, one hour per day to each household. With there being nothing in Dogville that needs being done, her offer is accepted reluctantly and she is given only token tasks.
Over time there are some interesting twists as Grace learns humility in Dogville. She becomes secretly engaged to Tom. She is considered a thief by Tomís father for Tomís theft from his father. She is identified in a missing persons poster, only to later be identified as wanted for bank robbery. The charity and token labor offered by the townsfolk turn to veiled tolerance and servitude. She is considered a whore by the wife of the man who rapes her. She is berated by the children she tutors.
Tom feels responsible for the horrific acts inflicted on Grace and arranges a town meeting for Grace to speak to the townsfolk to explain how their treatment of her might not be their best demonstration of charity. On the appointed day Grace tells her story without embellishment. But the good folk of Dogville can only handle so much truth about themselves at a time, and as Graceís tale of woe exceeds their buffer, resentment builds within the hearts of Dogville and they ransom Grace to the gangsters of Georgetown.
Offering Grace for the ransom turns out to be the undoing for the people of Dogville. Grace has been fleeing from her protector, so to speak, and when she is found by him, she is granted the power to be forgiving, now that she has the power not to be; or she can reward the good folk of Dogville according to their deeds---an interesting choice for she who would teach herself humility.
And this is a good place of departure for Your Take. By the unmerited favor of God, you and I have been spared the reward according to our deeds. But would we be as forgiving to those who offend us? Certainly we know that God expects us to forgive others as we have been forgiven, Mark 11:25 (KJV) And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But forgiveness is so much easier said than done. With the best intentions, it may still be difficult to forgive when treated as badly as Grace was treated. What may help us here is realizing that Jesus was treated so much worse, and God has forgiven us. Dare we risk separation from God because we desire to avenge ourselves? Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Dogville stars Nicole Kidman with a very significant cameo by James Caan. It is a long movie, a slow 177 minutes, shot on a drawn-out stage setting. But the ending makes it worthwhile. To order from Amazon, just click the link, Dogville.
Romans 12:19 (KJV)
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it
is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.