Lars von Trier Says Outrageous Shit About Nazis & Hitler To Rile The Press: Guess What? It Worked

by Edward Davis
May 18, 2011 2:05 AM
26 Comments
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Update: Lars Von Trier has apologized for his "Melancholia" press conference comments and recanted about saying he was a Nazi. "“If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologise. I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.”

The Cannes Film Festival condemned his words: "The Festival de Cannes was disturbed about the statements made by Lars von Trier in his press conference this morning in Cannes,” said the the official festival press release comments. "Therefore the Festival asked him to provide an explanation for his comments.The director states that he let himself be egged on by a provocation."

Original story below.
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This probably best just sums it up and we should leave it at that, but bear with us. Good old hyperbolic Roger Freidman, who naively sounds as if this is his first Cannes rodeo, said on Twitter, "Von Trier must have been drunk or stoned at press conf. Career killer possibly. Hello mel gibson."

This of course is in relation to von Trier's comments this morning during the press conference for his new psychological disaster movie, "Melancholia," that went like this. "Now how can I get out of this sentence? Ok. I’m a Nazi,” he said flippantly. "For a long time I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew," von Trier said, labeling himself a second rate Jew. Then, he said he found out that he was actually of German heritage. "I found out I was actually a Nazi. Which also gave me some pleasure. My family were German. What can I say? I understand Hitler…I sympathize with him a bit.”

Cute, but no, sorry Roger and the rest of the world, these are just von Trier's typical comments meant to provoke every time he has a new film to promote (hmm, gee, wonder why). It won't be the first "controversial" thing he says to stir up the press and make for good copy and it won't be the last (and it certainly won't be the end of his career). Let's not forget during Cannes 2009 and "Antichrist," the filmmaker stated flatly, "I am the best film director in the world." Actually Lars, considering our review of your latest film, and the weak, middling "Antichrist," the piss poor "The Boss of It All" comedy and the trilogy-killing, "Manderlay," your impish enfant terrible mien is starting to curdle and collapse on itself.

"I don’t mean I’m in favor of World War II and I’m not against Jews, not even Susanne Bier,” von Trier said digging a deeper hole for himself. “In fact I’m very much in favor of them. All Jews. Well, Israeli is a pain the ass but…”

Frankly, this is infantile and getting rather predictable. Of course in 2005 he said, "I come from a family of communist nudists. I was allowed to do or not do what I liked. My parents were not interested in whether I went to school or got drunk on white wine."

So which one is it Lars, you come from commie-hippie nudists or totalitarian assholes? Yawn.

OK, back to the film at hand, "Melancholia," starring Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård and Udo Kier, and a film about two sisters who find their relationship challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide into the Earth. "To me it's not so much a film about the end of the world, it's a film a about a state of mind," he said, "Maybe its crap," he said, which some people seemed to agree with, "Of course I hope not, but there's quite a big possibility that this might not be worth seeing."

You said it, pal, not us.

Here's Lars Von Trier's statement on "Melancholia" from the film's website which is hopefully much more interesting than this "controversial" nonsense.

"It was like waking from a dream: my producer showed me a suggestion for a poster. “What is that?” I ask. ”It’s a film you’ve made!” she replies. ”I hope not,” I stammer. Trailers are shown ... stills ... it looks like shit. I’m shaken.

Don’t get me wrong ... I’ve worked on the film for two years. With great pleasure. But perhaps I’ve deceived myself. Let myself be tempted. Not that anyone has done anything wrong ... on the contrary, everybody has worked loyally and with talent toward the goal defined by me alone. But when my producer presents me with the cold facts, a shiver runs down my spine.
This is cream on cream. A woman’s film! I feel ready to reject the film like a wrongly transplanted organ.
But what was it I wanted? With a state of mind as my starting point, I desired to dive headlong into the abyss of German romanticism. Wagner in spades. That much I know. But is that not just another way of expressing defeat? Defeat to the lowest of cinematic common denominators? Romance is abused in all sorts of endlessly dull ways in mainstream products.
And then, I must admit, I have had happy love relationships with romantic cinema ... to name the obvious: Visconti!

German romance that leaves you breathless. But in Visconti, there was always something to elevate matters beyond the trivial ... elevate it to masterpieces!
I am confused now and feel guilty. What have I done?

Is it ’exit Trier?’ I cling to the hope that there may be a bone splinter amid all the cream that may, after all, crack a fragile tooth ... I close my eyes and hope!"

"Melancholia" hits U.S. shores on November 4th, hopefully by then the discourse will simply shift back to the merits of the film.

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26 Comments

  • James | June 5, 2011 9:44 AMReply

    The really brilliant artist of the world SHOULD be "allowed" to say stuff, that "normal" people shouldnt say.

    Why? Because artist are like grown up children, that cannot put a lid on them self. They have free association and if you ask them questions you will not get a perfected answer as if it were a politician you asked. You will instead get a completely honest answer, a stream of thoughts that hasnt been adjusted to common norms or taboos.

    Not only are they "allowed" to do this, we WANT them to do this. Thats the whole point of the existence of artist.

    Lars Von Trier is an excentric, mad and brilliant artistic genius who writes, films and direct his own movies. Not many of those left in todays cinema.

  • Sean | May 20, 2011 11:04 AMReply

    Nothing is off limits when it comes to humour. Whether it's fart jokes or talking about dead kids, with the right spin, anything can be funny.

    And what, the Jews are of limits because a huge atrocity? I think not.

    Hitler's moustache is funny.

  • Lucy | May 19, 2011 3:12 AMReply

    Poor Dunst. :(

    Seriously to the person who is a Jew and thought it was funny. You're a dumbass too.

    Plain and simple he is a crazy ass. Nothing is funny about Hitler, nothing in anyway can come out being funny when people start talking about Jews and especially with what happened to them in the 40s. Its a disgrace. Its disgusting behavior from anyone.

    So the guy wanted to make a joke and he choose Hitler and Jews? Seriously what the hell.

    people just keep on shitting on the Jews with their stupid words. So the majority of th middle east hates the Jewish people and lo and behold a bunch of other jackasses in Europe and America do as well.

    Jews are the scapegoats of History. People disgust me.

    Geesh. Dont say stuff that you think is funny with any type of people especially those who were murdered. People start saying I follow Stalin and murder my own people, Rwanda, Darfur. Its sick.

    However I think this film looks good because of the actors. I do think he did a huge disservice to the wonderful actors on the film. He could talk about the sets, et. but instead he went to crazytown. But he lives there so what did I expect. But leave the Jews ALONE.

  • Pierre | May 19, 2011 2:46 AMReply

    @Lucy -- Hate to break it to you but there's this thing called 'black' humour. You might want to look that up. It's popularity and effectiveness is in direct correlation with the offense caused.

  • Erik | May 18, 2011 10:45 AMReply

    Anyone who now believes this guy is actually a Nazi is out of their minds. What Von Trier said today was stupid, unfunny and in extremely poor taste - but it was still pretty obviously a joke. So, you know, what people can reasonably hold against him today is making a bad joke. That's all there is to it.

  • jimmiescoffee | May 18, 2011 7:13 AMReply

    apologists.

  • Nik | May 18, 2011 6:47 AMReply

    Ed you shouldn't even be responding to me or taking my arguments seriously, I'm a "purposeful provocateur."

    :-)

    Anyway, appreciate the responses good time had by all

  • Edward Davis | May 18, 2011 5:51 AMReply

    ARGH, i posted a numbered response to a few questions here esp Nik, but it didn't take and most of it seems moot now, whatever.

    But in short, no, i don't condone his comments Nick. I think comparing it to Bay/Ratner saying the same thing is totally different as they are not purposeful provocateurs.

  • Pierre | May 18, 2011 5:49 AMReply

    Well I thought the Final Solution for jounalists punchline was pretty funny considering his distaste for press and the provocation his comments have so effectively caused already. The build up wasn't as funny, but he's getting there as a comedian! Good on ya, Lars.

  • Nik Grape | May 18, 2011 5:31 AMReply

    Did anyone honestly think he was a Nazi?! Wow.

  • zatopek | May 18, 2011 5:03 AMReply

    So Trier has already stated an official apology:

    “If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a nazi.” - Lars von Trier.

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/lars_von_trier_apologies_for_controversial_melancolia_press_conference/

  • S | May 18, 2011 4:39 AMReply

    Yes, his quotes are idiotic and he meant them to be "funny", but it still doesn't excuse someone from just making random statements that imply any fellowship to Hitler or Nazis.
    He's obviously just a crazy ass, and I frankly just got one more reason to avoid his films, which have turned me off for the last time.

  • zatopek | May 18, 2011 4:37 AMReply

    "these are just von Trier’s typical comments meant to provoke every time he has a new film to promote (hmm, gee, wonder why)."

    Trier likes to provoke people and has a dark sense of humour. If you watch the press conference (which can be seen here: http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/mediaPlayer/11391.html) you can see that the nazi comments/jokes were not intended before hand as you seem to suggest. And more than anything these misquoted "I'm a Nazi" -scoops are probably hurting the film more than giving it good publicity.

    "So which one is it Lars, you come from commie-hippie nudists or totalitarian assholes? Yawn."

    Do your research, Eddie-boy. Lars comes from a hippie-nudist family but his biological father was German, which he found out only in his thirties.

    Also your attacks at Trier's recent work is hilarious. Antichrist is far from weak, middling work and your blog seems to be in the minority about Melancholia also. There's many reviewers raving about it and even calling it a masterpiece.

  • Nik | May 18, 2011 4:25 AMReply

    Edward, very convenient to use the ol' "glad my post stirred up discussion that was exactly my point" instead of explaining it, but well done none the less. here is my question to you then I will stop annoying everyone.

    If I am reading your comments correctly, you are saying none of his comments should be taken seriously, reported about, or be taken as offensive, because he is Lars Von Trier, indie filmaker who likes to cause a stir and get attention.

    So saying offensive and ignorant things is OK if you are using and exploiting unrelated past tragedies to promote your indie movie? Also, if you are just saying them to get attention for yourself or your movie, then everyone should be allowed to say as many ignorant or racist comments as you want and not react to them? Curious - if Michael Bay or Brett Ratner did this at a press conference, also to just just garner press like you say Lars is doing, would you still be OK with it and make fun of anyone who reacts to it or is offended/annoyed by it?

  • Nik | May 18, 2011 4:11 AMReply

    Other Nik:

    I see your points and understand where your coming from. I guess my larger point is that I just don't get why being an "Artist" or "acclaimed indie filmaker" gives you a pass to be an moron.

    A lot of people of strange senses of humor, I get that. Still, if a businessman, teacher, cop, repair man, athlete, busdriver, etc, came out and publicly said this kind stuff, no one would be calling them a "misunderstood genius" - just because he makes movies, he can not only be an ignorant assclown, but be celebrated for it? He should just keep that nonsense to himself.

    "It’s von Trier’s fault if they leave thinking about what he said regarding Hitler, Nazis or whatever? Don’t think so."

    Yes it is - I think Von Trier has been around long enough to know that publicly stating that he sympathizes with Hitler will get attention for him and have it detract from his film, cast, etc.

  • Edward Davis | May 18, 2011 4:09 AMReply

    I'm kinda glad this stirs up lots of discussion, exactly the point. And yes, lots of contradictions because LVT is a complicated man as is MY relationship to him (love him and dislike him at times and it's MY piece).

    1) Yes, thank god Lars Von Trier exists, he is IMMENSELY quotables.
    2) LTVs quotes, like his work, are getting a little predictable and therefore tiresome. The one this morning seems like a silly molotav cocktail thrown at a schoolbus of children just so he can smile and watch people freak out about it. The first time he did it, it might have been shocking or twisted funny. Not so much anymore.
    3) To be outraged about his quotes are silly, he IS laughing.
    4) To laugh at someone like Roger Friedman who should know better by now considering he has been in this business for a long time
    5) Bringing back the discussion to film should never be hated on.
    7) I don't imply Melancholia is shite, i haven't seen it. I said that based on our review, it sounds like his is continuing on a downward path. The film, even like the very uneven Antichrist (which is half brilliant, half goes off the rails), likely has merit. Almost all his work does even if he's forcing it in recent years.
    8) Your mama.

  • walktheearth | May 18, 2011 4:04 AMReply

    It must be exhausting to be this pertentious all the time. I admire and respect his films. I enjoy the spectacle of von Trier press conferences, but they can grow tiresome.

  • Nik Grape | May 18, 2011 4:03 AMReply

    Not the only Nik here I see...a bit disappointing heh..


    Anyway, von Trier is just secretly laughing at the ridiculousness that gets thrown at him and his humour is very satirical in that sense. Slightly ignorant journalists like Friedman latch on to that and tweet stupidity only making themselves look foolish, wihle von Trier is laughing it up. And why not?

    And Nik: the press conference lasted 40 minutes, and they talked about the film for 35 minutes of of it. It's von Trier's fault if they leave thinking about what he said regarding Hitler, Nazis or whatever? Don't think so.

    And finally, to the writer ... very strange article indeed. Quiet contradictory not only regarding von Trier's comments but also Melancholia. At first you imply the film is shite but then you suggest it has merits. Which is it? Oh and let's not make it seem like Antichrist is a chink in the man's filmmography, it has many many supporters because it's a pretty great film.

  • Nik | May 18, 2011 3:32 AMReply

    Yes Mark, wouldn't it be terrible if PR and the press had to talk about an actual film at a film festival, instead of nutty religious comments?

  • Nik | May 18, 2011 3:30 AMReply

    "I am a Jew and his comments are certifiably hilarious. People need to have seen his films or understand his sense of humor in order to appreciate them."

    He wasn't commenting to a room full of his disciples who appreciate him, he was commenting to a room full of reporters who write for the general public. Hitler and Bin Laden's followers understand and appreciate them, doesn't make the comments any less stupid.

    Comments like this just do a disservice to everyone who worked on the movie. Instead of talking about the camerawork, acting, sets, etc, everyone will be talking about him - serves his ego just fine, and he gets to keep trying to make a reputation as a "misunderstood crazy brilliant artist." what a jackass

  • Mark | May 18, 2011 3:29 AMReply

    Thank god for people like Von Trier, what a stultifyingly dull place the world would be without them, run by zombie PR people.

  • Alex | May 18, 2011 3:05 AMReply

    I am a Jew and his comments are certifiably hilarious. People need to have seen his films or understand his sense of humour in order to appreciate them.

    This doesn't feel like a Mel Gibson/John Galliano incident but could easily be made out to be one. I'd like to hear Woody Allen's opinion on the comments.

  • annoymous | May 18, 2011 2:45 AMReply

    Lar's "father" was a jew. But then he realized he wasn't his biological father. His real father was a german who lived in next door.

  • Nik | May 18, 2011 2:42 AMReply

    Also, it's funny how you use this post to take digs at professional, main stream press (oh you sly, snaky, blogger, you!) for covering and publicizing Von Triers remarks, as if they are falling to some promotional trap, yet you are doing exactly the same thing by posting your own reaction to comments.

    "Haha stupid mainstream media so stupid they are reacting to Von Triers remarks! Which by the way were this, this, and this, and here's my reaction."

  • Erik | May 18, 2011 2:31 AMReply

    Strange article - first you say his comments are hardly noteworthy, then you proceed to act shocked and outraged by them.

    For the record, I think his comments were pretty stupid and unfunny, but to use them as an occasion to start dissing his work seems kneejerk.

  • Nik | May 18, 2011 2:30 AMReply

    wait so you compare his comments about Nazis, Jews, etc to....the time he said “I am the best film director in the world?"

    Not exactly the same thing.

    Your headline and article premise would work if you had linked it to other times he had said offensive remarks, not just "typical" stupid remarks.

    Also, you say he is doing this to try to drum up promotion. Can you please name an instance where the "insult Jews" or "director personally offending people" strategy helped promote a movie?

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