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ReFocus: The Films of Susanne Bier$
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Missy Molloy, Mimi Nielsen, and Meryl Shriver-Rice

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474428729

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428729.001.0001

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Susanne Bier’s Hollywood Experiments: Things We Lost in the Fire and Serena

Susanne Bier’s Hollywood Experiments: Things We Lost in the Fire and Serena

(p.56) Chapter 3 Susanne Bier’s Hollywood Experiments: Things We Lost in the Fire and Serena
ReFocus: The Films of Susanne Bier

Missy Molloy

Edinburgh University Press

“Susanne Bier’s Hollywood Experiments: Things We Lost in the Fire and Serena” explores the lackluster responses to Bier’s first English-language productions, often referred to as her ‘Hollywood films’. Author Missy Molloy surveys a variety of sources related to the films’ productions and receptions to reveal the challenges Bier faced transitioning to new production contexts. Moreover, while the films demonstrate Bier’s willingness to experiment with unfamiliar genres and production conditions, they also reaffirm her attractions to specific cinematic subjects, images, and narrative scenarios. Thus, these less successful films provide information relevant to the project of tracing Bier’s authorial influence across a body of extremely varied works. Furthermore, the fact that her authorial influence was somewhat muted in her first ‘Hollywood’ films—due to her signing on late in pre-production as well as complications that arose during post-production— indicates that in Bier’s case, early involvement allows her to affect the characters and narratives to the extent that they reflect career-long preoccupations, which manifested in Things We Lost in the Fire and Serena to a degree that didn’t significantly appeal to either her domestic or international audience. The chapter complements Langkjær’s and Agger’s attentions to more successful films by highlighting that Bier’s approach to genre is expansive, even when it does not produce desirable results. Molloy concludes that less effective elements of Bier’s cinematic strategies are results, at least partly, of bad timing. She further argues that reception prejudices played a role in Things We Lost in the Fire and Serena’s failures to land with audiences.

Keywords:   Susanne Bier, Danish cinema, Women’s cinema, Cinematic Authorship, Film industries, Transnational cinema

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