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With Rights To 'Nymphomaniac' Selling Like Crazy, Does Lars Von Trier's Non-Apology Really Matter?

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist September 21, 2011 at 2:22AM

Oh, Lars Von Trier. The director, who seriously needs to be put in the hands of a good publicist, continues to shoot off this mouth and stack the deck against himself. While he's not exactly Mel Gibson, watching the helmer lately is akin to seeing a sub-Andrew Dice Clay comedian bomb terribly somewhere in the Catskills. His comments, both at Cannes and in the latest issue of GQ, aren't so much offensive (though we can understand how someone might be offended) as they are a series of poorly selected words. Before we get to the latest statement that has ruffled feathers, let's rewind a bit to the Croisette -- here's what he said at the time in answer to a question about his Germanic roots that caused festival organizers to bar him from the Palais:
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Oh, Lars Von Trier. The director, who seriously needs to be put in the hands of a good publicist, continues to shoot off this mouth and stack the deck against himself. While he's not exactly Mel Gibson, watching the helmer lately is akin to seeing a sub-Andrew Dice Clay comedian bomb terribly somewhere in the Catskills. His comments, both at Cannes and in the latest issue of GQ, aren't so much offensive (though we can understand how someone might be offended) as they are a series of poorly selected words. Before we get to the latest statement that has ruffled feathers, let's rewind a bit to the Croisette -- here's what he said at the time in answer to a question about his Germanic roots that caused festival organizers to bar him from the Palais:

“For a long time I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew, then I met [Danish and Jewish director] Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler…I sympathize with him a bit. I don’t mean I’m in favor of World War II and I’m not against Jews, not even Susanne Bier. In fact I’m very much in favor of them. All Jews. Well, Israel is a pain in the ass but…Now how can I get out of this sentence? Ok. I’m a Nazi.”

Now, on the page that reads horribly, but the video below shows what most people forget -- that during the press conference, attendees realized (however uncomfortably) he was being the provocateur he always is, and even laughed as his terrible, terrible "joke," an attempt to be shocking that went horribly, horribly awry. Now, the smart thing to do would've been to apologize, shut the fuck up and let time heal the wound, but this is Lars Von Trier, so of course he's going to continue to pick at the scab. He recently gave GQ (via Toronto Sun) some more inflammatory quotes, wherein he outright refuses to do penance for his off color words at Cannes:

"I don't think there is a right or wrong thing to say. I think that anything can be said. That is very much me...To say I'm sorry for what I said is to say I'm sorry for what kind of a person I am, (and that) I'm sorry for my morals, and that would destroy me as a person.

"It's not true. I'm not sorry. I am not sorry for what I said. I'm sorry that it didn't come out more clearly. I'm not sorry that I made a joke. But I'm sorry that I didn't make it clear that it was a joke. But I can't be sorry for what I said - it's against my nature... but that's maybe where I'm really sick in my mind. You can't be sorry about something that's fundamentally you. Maybe I'm a freak in that sense."

Listen Lars, we get that this all started because you went off on a tangent that got you caught up in a ridiculously horrible train of thought you couldn't derail. But for the love of God, man, just apologize (because seriously, you really need to), go off on a deep retreat and let this blow over. But he's Lars, so he'll do whatever the fuck he wants. But will it affect his career? Probably not.

Despite some reports that certain distributors were no longer going to work with Von Trier after the whole fiasco this spring, buyers don't seem too worried about picking up the rights to his next film "The Nymphomaniac." THR reports that so far Artificial Eye in the U.K., Poland's Gutek Film, Aero Films in the Czech Republic, Wild Bunch in Benelux, Insomina for ex-Yugoslavian territories and Central Partnership for Russian have all taken on the rights to the movie. Of course, that could be because the director is promising some hardcore porno (as well as a softer version for more prudish territories) but it seems that sex will always sell. However, if Von Trier continues to try and rationalize his comments, he may soon find people are less willing to play along. So, seriously Lars, own up to your mistake, make a sincere apology and let us all move on.

This article is related to: Foreign Films, Foreign Directors, Nymphomaniac, Lars von Trier