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Why Lars Von Trier Doesn't Offend Us Jews.

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn May 18, 2011 at 10:57AM

Why Lars Von Trier Doesn't Offend Us Jews.

…or this one, anyway. Here's the background, in case you missed it:

His movies don't support the allegations of anti-Semitism.
And these are personal works! If someone can take a scene from "Antichrist" and show how it proves Von Trier's anti-Semitic, I'm all ears. It reveals a disturbed man, but not a hateful one.

He likes to stir things up.
This is a form of advocacy. Von Trier's apology helps smooth over the wounds, but not before he got both himself and his movie noticed. And if you watch the clip above, Von Trier doesn't exactly call Hitler a good guy. The randomness of the discussion was what really raised eyebrows. If Von Trier had directed "Downfall," he wouldn't have come across as quite so offensive. It's not like declared Holy War.

He defies the system.
Kirsten Dunst's squirming next to Von Trier was one of those rare moments where a trained star dropped the facade. Her face said, "Not cool, dude." And it wasn't cool, but then he doesn't aim for likability. He wants to provoke, and his delivery in the above clips reveals a man struggling for the right words--or, in this case, the wrong ones. Look, I don't think Von Trier enjoyed the image of a clitorectomy in "Antichrist" or the explosion of the Earth in "Melancholia." But the inspiration strikes him and he goes for it. Cinematically speaking, this is usually a good thing. Verbally, he might want to think twice. Personally, I'm not holding my breath.