“Women too like to see other people having sex. What they don’t like is the endless close-ups of hammering bodyparts without a story. Von Trier is the first to have realised this and produced valuable quality porn films for women.”
– Stern No. 40, 27 September 2007
He called himself a Nazi at the Cannes Film Festival, he outlines sexual frustrations for nearly four hours, he tramples in our souls, then he laughs at his sleeves. I think Lars von Trier is the director, for whom really nothing is sacred, but in spite of everything we still forgive him. What’s more, we love him for it.
The 59-year-old Danish film director is worthily famous (notorious?) works divides sheerly the audience of art movies, some consider his style as muckraker and exaggerated, while others call him a genius full with individuality. Lars art is not motivated by desire of convenience, but rather the achievement of the desired effect and he certainly fulfills his objective. The director’s works are not indifferent to anyone.
Lars was already interested in film at the age of thirteen, his first feature film, “The Element of Crime” swept the Technical Grand Prize of the Cannes Film Festival. But the real breakthrough was the first part of “The Kingdom” which aroused the attention of the film world for the gifted young man, and his further works received tremendous interest. Europa (introduced in 1991) was followed by Breaking the Waves, “The Idiots”, “Dancer in the Dark”, “Dogville”, “Antichrist”, “Melancholia” and the recently presented “Nymphomaniac 1. and 2.” are perhaps the most outstanding works of Lars.
The company “Dogma95” established in 1995 is also linked to his name who were the initiators of an avant-garde film movement back then. The director is considered one of the most innovative figures of film industry since his works are breaking up the rules of traditional film aesthetics, and finger out several new directions, opportunities in the world of motion pictures. Even though some dramaturgical specialties are reflecting back and reveal the identity of the director, Lars’s films, however, can not be classified in distinct categories.
And what inspires such a director? Everything that could lead to disaster, which is perverse, depressed or frail. Lars pays particular attention to the functioning of the human psyche, and I think we may say: as great knowledge he possesses of the human nature, just as little tolerance he has. His characters are carefully fashined personalities, who usually are the embodiments of insecurity, instability, and the social norms pressed upon them. Throughout the stories we can learn about the deeper psychological process running down in them, looking on the degradation or the recovery of their personal development, the moments of breakdown or acquisition.
Lars depicts and kicks his “victims” with an astonishing rawness and courage, and indirectly also in his audience from the most unexpected sites. The main characters of his unusual movies -which go strictly against the mainstream- are mostly played by well-known actors. Lars has already worked with Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Uma Thurman, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Björkkel – bridging the mutual dislike with the latter prior to the shooting.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Lars’s character and his manifestations often flutters the audience, the judges and the critics as well. The well-known absurd humor of his films permeates the whole life of the director, and he sometimes tends to forget the limits of the bearable. Lars talks about his publicly known alcohol problems in a shockingly honest manner, moreover, he called himself publicly a nazi, a sympathizer of Adolph Hitler during the premiere of his movie “Melancholia” in Cannes.
“Making a movie is hard work, you tend to drink more” said the director to the British newspaper , adding that his addiction to drink came from a need to “overcome his anxiety”. Lars Von Trier, known for his fight against depression, affirms to know this form of anxiety since childhood : “I think drunk artists (laughs) are more sensitive […] But being sensitive leads to anxiety. I worked on it in a therapy. Sometimes we manage to handle my anxiety while other times it is impossible. ” He added that he was forced , several times, to “drink from the morning on the shootings” to control his torments.
Let’s investigate the top six movies of this controversial director:
6. Breaking the Waves
Bess is a deeply religious girl who is getting married with Jan innocently. The man is working at an oil rig on the sea, and he counts as a stranger in the closed community where Bess belongs. When the mentally unstable girl gets to know the physical pleasures, she can not get enough of it, but Janne have to return to the rig, which fags out the woman in love.
Bess’s days pass with expectation, she prays to God every night for her husband’s return as soon as possible. Her prayers are heard, Jan returns home, but as a result of a serious accident his entire body gets paralyzed. This is a real test for both of them, but love is a powerful force which can work wonders. Bess obeys to the internal sounds, unconditionally fulfilling the increasingly perverse wishes of her crippled husband.
5. Dancer in the Dark
The naive, lovable widow leaving his homeland wishes to raise money for her son’s eye surgery working as a steel factory worker. The disease is hereditary. The mother is increasingly just groping in the dark. But she is fighting at all costs for her child to avoid those things that she was unable to.
The time gets shorter, and the countdown begins while stumbling in the gloom. The noise of the machines are unfolding the basics of the songs in Bjork’s imagination. The work discusses emigration, disease and misery while it creates a real anti-genre balancing on the border of kitsch and the total device failure, controlling the emotions with a suspicion of cult.
The scene of the story is Dogville, a small mining village in the America of the ’30s. Residents are poor immigrants, “good and honest citizens who love their city” – as we learn from the narrator who guides the viewer throughout the film.
Grace (Nicole Kidman) arrives fleeing from pursuers in this secluded community. A pretty young woman The villagers take in the young, pretty woman after a meeting and decide to give him shelter from the gangsters chasing her. In exchange Grace does everything to help them.
However, what initially started as a favor later turns out to be coercion, a real terror. The locals get to know that Grace is wanted by the police, so the shelter is offered to her on a more and more expensive price. Grace will be the slave of the village, she will be exploited, raped, beaten and chained – they break the young girl both physically and mentally. However, the asylum seeker woman has some surprises in store, so the residents of the village have to be afraid after having taken advantage of the attractive Grace.
A middle-aged couple ‘s life and relationship is fundamentally shaken by the death of their small child. While they were making love, the little in the other room fell out of the window and crushed to death.
The wife gets to the hospital, but her therapist husband brings her out, hoping that he can help her.To confront her with her fears, they go to Eden, their remote little house in the woods, where they spent many happy summers. However, things turn out differently. The dark forces of take over the control,and the woman gets more and more crazy.
The ” idiots ” are a young group of people who have one thing in common: idiocy. Their headquarters is a villa, where they spend most of their free time to seek out the hidden, undeservedly underrated values of idiocy, Their talent is constantly being tested.
They bolt down life and defy society through their idiotistic acts. Nothing compares to the success they encounter when one of them surpasses himself. Karen accidentally meets the three members of the group and unwittingly becomes a part of the game…
Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage at a grand gathering in the huge house of Justine‘s sister, Claire and her husband, John. Despite the fact that Claire does her best the wedding party flats out: the repressed tensions of the family break to the surface, relationships seem to break up and head towards the fatal ruptures. Meanwhile, the planet Melancholia is getting closer and closer to the Earth.
In a recent interview with the Guardian , the 58 years old Danish filmmaker told that he tried to “remain sober by all his might“, that is to say to participate in meetings of Anonymous Alcoholics “every day for a year and a half“. However, he admits that “he took many drugs at the moment ” and especially that “he started again to drink to be able to work“.
Thank you for reading our articles about the Danish director genius. We will come back soon with our next article.