Element of Crime: Inspiration from Blade Runner?

 Leading from

a) Basic comparison to Blade Runner

A film that Lars Von Trier's Element of Crime (released 1984) had often been compared to was Blade Runner (released 1982), perhaps because of the presence of a detective in a near future environment and the darkness. The editor and cinematographer of Trier's film acknowledge that the film had been partly inspired by Blade Runner, while Trier was quite sure that despite that, it was still quite different.

  1.  Von Trier has described his "Europa" or "Zentropa" as a thriller, even citing Hitchcock in an interview with a Polish journalist. But while Hitchcock was precise, even at his most playfully evasive, Von Trier is vague, portentous. He also confesses his debt to Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and to Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner," but both of these futuristic visions are more firmly grounded than "Zentropa," with its semi-coherent stream of nightmare images, its blend of Brechtian satire and sexual-political phobias.  (https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-1992-08-07-0000114017-story.html.) 
  2. Tomas Gislasen: Most computer games and thrillers look just like
    Tom Elling: It's really kickstarted different things
    Tomas Gislasen: But then again, it's inspired by "Blade Runner" and Tarkovsky.
    Lars Von Trier: Now, now,...
    Tom Elling: No, you're absolutely right...
    Lars Von Trier:  But it's still quite different from "Blade Runner"

    (Element of Crime -
    Subtitles from the commentry with Lars Von Trier, Tomas Gislasen and Tom Elling: 59 minutes in )

b) Origami Unicorn to small glass horse's head

In the film Blade Runner there is a character named Gaff who creates little pieces of origami as an insult to Deckard as if they reflected Deckard's state of mind.
There's a detective named Fisher who is after the child murderer, instead of picking up a a piece of origami unicorn that was intended to make Deckard to realise that he's a replicant in Blade Runner, he picks up a glass like horse head that he picked up earlier in the movie. It was a little figure from the murderer.
  1. The Element of Crime has even been called an art house Blade Runner (USA 1982), not just because the detective in Ridley Scotts classic science-fiction film also turns out to be the kind of replicant he is supposed to hunt down, but because of the corresponding setting a dilapidated city shrouded in twilight, artificial lighting and rain.(Playing the waves: Lars Von Trier's Game Cinema, Jan Simons, 2003) 
In Blade Runner , Gaff making an origami chicken

Gaff's origami chicken

In Element of Crime, Fisher looks around in a pit

He reaches for a small transparent horse head

He picks it up

c) Fisher becomes the murderer
Later when he is in a small room a little girl using her as bait for the killer,  the glass horse head suddenly falls out of his pocket. The girl thinks that he must be the child killer and so indeed he ends up for no known reason suddenly killing the girl sufforcating her perhaps to keep her silent so as not to scare the murderer off or whatever reason, but in the end he has become the murderer that he's been chasing.  The villain Harry Grey might be real or just a phantom like invention.

Perhaps it's like the idea of Deckard in Blade Runner finding the origami unicorn and believing that Gaff knew about his dream of the unicorn and so that meant Deckard was a replicant all along but was allowed to go free
  1. Interviewer:Why does Fisher kill little girl if he's a humanist?
    Lars Von Trier: That's a good question that not even Osborne can answer. From a dramaturgical point of you it's interesting to let a person arrive in Europe with the best intentions and to end up having him commit the worst imaginable crime and killing little girls, that is the worst imaginable crime (Lars von Trier: Interviews, p39)




  1. "Element of Crime: Inspiration from Blade Runner" has now been given its own page

  2. "Element of Crime: Inspiration from Blade Runner" was given its own separate page on 4th October 2021