Danish enfant terrible Lars Von Trier managed to top even his own record of being a complete jackass at the Cannes Film Festival this year when, at the premiere of his latest film, the apocalyptic drama "Melancholia," he made a string of comments, including describing himself as "a Nazi," which saw the long-time supporters on the Croisette declare him "persona non grata." Was this the undoing of one of the film world's most provocative directors?
Of course not. Screen Daily confirm that Von Trier is now locking in his next project, and it promises to be his most controversial to date. The site report that "Nymphomaniac," which was mooted before the festival to be the director's next film, is now looking certain to be so, and is currently targeting a shoot in the summer of 2012. As previously reported, the film will likely be sexually explicit in nature, and revolve around "the erotic life of a woman from the age of zero to the age of 50." The key words there being "from the age of zero" -- it sounds like Von Trier's going to be getting Freudian in his next film, and we're sure that another potential storm is already brewing, five getting you ten that someone will use the term "child pornography" long before anyone sees the picture.
Nevertheless, the director seems ready to strike some kind of compromise on the film, which will be made up of eight chapters, with names such as "The Western and Eastern Church" and "The Little Organ School" -- it seems that two versions will be produced, one featuring explicit scenes of penetration, the other aimed at a more squeamish, mainstream audience. It also appears that it'll be shot in English -- like most of the helmer's work these days -- and is being financed across Europe. Producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen said "He (Von Trier) is really keen on doing this thing. I think that this will be a very amusing film also, very erotic but very funny also. I guess we have something which could generate some press attention. How pornographic it will be, that we have to see in terms of what financing dictates.”
Hopefully the film will have some reasoning to it behind just shock value, and the fact that the film will be "primarily dialogue-driven" gives us some hope in that regard. Assuming financing and a cast come together, Von Trier will shoot next summer (the original mooted date for his "The Five Obstructions" remake with Martin Scorsese, which makes us wonder if the Cannes kerfuffle has put that project on ice for a bit), so we'll probably see this on the festival circuit -- with certain obvious exceptions -- sometime in 2013, while "Melancholia" lands in U.S. theaters on November 11th.
On similarly controversial territory, Hollywood Elsewhere recently reported that Anders Behring Breivik, the white supremacist behind the deaths of 77 people in Norway, listed the director's film "Dogville" as one of his favorite films, along with the more traditionally violent likes of "Gladiator" and "300;" something deemed relevant by some because that film ends with Nicole Kidman's character ordering the death of the townspeople who have abused her by gunfire.
Danish magazine Politikien asked Von Trier about the connection, and the director seemed rather devastated by the news, saying "I feel badly about thinking that 'Dogville,' which in my eyes is one of my most successful films, should have been a kind of script for him. It's horrific. My intention with 'Dogville' was totally opposite. Namely, to ask whether we can accept a protagonist who takes revenge on the entire village. And here I take the absolute distance from revenge. It's a way to nuance the protagonist and our feelings and perhaps even uncover it, so it just is not black and white... And you can ask if I regret making the film. And yes, if it was an inspiration, I'm sorry that I made it. But of course I have educational purposes with my films, even if I hesitate to admit it, and my views are the complete opposite of Breivik and his deeds."
It's understandable that Von Trier might feel guilty, but he shouldn't: psychotics have taken their inspiration for anything from "The Wizard Of Oz" to "Catcher In The Rye," and unless the filmmaking was truly irresponsible -- which "Dogville" certainly is not -- then a director shouldn't be blamed for the actions of those who watch it.