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by Peter Knegt
May 18, 2011 4:01 AM
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Lars von Trier Apologizes For Controversial "Melancholia" Press Conference Comments

Lars von Trier and Kirsten Dunst in Cannes. Photo by Brian Brooks.

After this morning's press conference for "Melancholia" quickly caused a spread of controversy on the Croisette and across the internet, Lars von Trier has offered a brief apology via an official Cannes press release. The release notes that the festival was "disturbed" by Trier's comments, which included the following:

"I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was happy being a Jew, Then later I found out that I wasn't a Jew. I really wanted to be, but found out I was really a Nazi because my family was German. I understand Hitler, but I definitely see some wrong things. I just think I understand the man. He's not what I call a good guy. I'm not for the Second World War. I'm for Jews, well maybe except for the Israelis - sometimes they're a problem..."

Check out a complete rundown of the press conference here, and the full press release below, which simply states that Trier felt "he let himself be egged on by a provocation.":

The Festival de Cannes was disturbed about the statements made by Lars von Trier in his press conference this morning in Cannes. 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. He presents his apology.

The direction of the Festival acknowledges this and is passing on Lars von Trier’s apology. The Festival is adamant that it would never allow the event to become the forum for such pronouncements on such subjects.

UPDATE: U.S. distributor Magnolia Pictures also sent around a release, which included an extended statement from von Trier:

In connection to the Melancholia conference this morning, Lars von Trier has the following statement:

"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.


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43 Comments

  • Tim | February 5, 2014 4:12 AMReply

    It's ok to be against jews but it's a sin if you say anything critical against muslims. Typical leftist...

  • Neel | October 13, 2012 3:56 AMReply

    This is an unfortunate incident, Melancolia is good. It basically came from Durer's famous painting which has many secrets hidden in that about Ancient mystery. You can check the secrets at www.albrechtdurerblog.com.

  • radius-of-the-persian-cat | October 11, 2011 12:08 PMReply

    Is it only me who saw a hidden symbol in von Triers tentalizing planet Melancholia ? Am I lunatic, or does the fuzzy pattern of clouds on it really resemble a Magen David ? Check out yourself at my blog http://www.persian-cat.de and tell me what you see. And in case this is really no conincidence, but placed there by von Trier intentionally, than what is the message behind ? If he wants to tell us that the earth will be eaten up by a jewish super-planet, than I have to admit he shows this in the most aesthetic images, no horror scenes, no explosions, no thunder. A very calm process with a deep sense of harmony. Some comments on his movie even said that when Earth collides with Melancholia it looks like the fusion of a ovum with a sperm during fertilisation. Radius

  • Lisa | September 10, 2011 10:51 AMReply

    He is a guest at Cannes, and it is not his own platform, so, his ramblings are in such situation inapropriate. He can express his freedom of speech whenever he wants, but a press which is under umbrella of Cannes is not a good idea. If someone comes to the party in someone's house, needs to behave. Why he should get excused and being allowed to babble whatever flows through his brain? He is not a child. What is this servile attitude toward someone just because he is talented movie maker? Cult of male genius? Other are talented too, and can behave less childish. Lack of social graces is not magically a sign of higher intelligence and courage. On the contrary: it can be a sign of temporary mental lapse, and lack of courage facing own imperfections.

  • John Muhamadberg Smith | May 24, 2011 3:28 AMReply

    I really wish people with Jewish names would stop trying to promote the vindictive black-listing of people under the auspices of their firmly held (don't care if it's actually true or not, but they firmly insist it is) ,."that person is an antisemite! because I say so, and I say we brand him or her that and put them out of work!"

    You disgust many people and CREATE antisemitism in people because your motive and agenda is very clear.. Diane Rubinsteins of this world.

    And likewise I really wish that people with Middle-Eastern Arab sounding names would stop their pedantic childish "I'm going to say something truly idiotic, but I have such a high opinion of myself, that I'm sure no one will notice...ready? "Isn’t freedom of opinion one of the basics of democracy?!" the subtext is of course, "You all are so dumb you won't notice how I, like every single other hate monger, tries to hide behind freedom of speech, whenever I want to say or support someone who says something racist, hateful or idiotic "

    And then there's JasonFarm, who is either a complete and utter moron, or another arrogant pedantic childish self-important delusional idiot, with the sooo retarded I can't believe it didn't break my copy'n'paste function, *wait for it*,

    "also i dont know who on here thinks america’s news is pro israel, maybe fox news, but everything else, cnn abc nbc are all viciously liberal and anti israel"

    This sort of self-important disregard for the truth idiocy needs its own Darwin award. Most likely an Anti-Israel Arab pretending to be a middle-American teenager.

    See the problem? You idiots on both sides can't hide your bias on either side, and you just make everyone sick. You're not fooling anyone, whether you're a JEWISH vindictive asshat trying to blacklist people because you just KNOW person X must be an anti-Semite

    OR whether you're an antisemitic Arab who thinks you can outsmart Americans by pretending to be one, or (by trying) to hide behind U.S beliefs and laws..you don't fool anyone asshat..

    The 2 of you are perfect examples of the problem, you're assholes all the way through, one arrogant asshat trying to destroy someone else's life and livelihood because s/he feels she can, another arrogant asshat that thinks we don't see through his oh-so-coy pedantic childish antisemetic bullcrap.

    You're made for eachother, this problem is going to go on FOREVER because you're BOTH giant self-important meandering arrogant anuses.

  • Jaime Soltary | May 19, 2011 12:52 PMReply

    The fact is that Lars showed his true colors when asked to clarify his Hitler statement.... and he did. His antisemitic bias has no relation to the numerous comments about pro Israel bias in the press. It seems to me (a-non jew) that the pseudo progressive speakers have found a way
    to express the antisemitism encoded in their DNA by attacking Israel using ANY pretext

  • Screwface | May 19, 2011 12:35 PMReply

    Thats it I can't take it anymore. No More TV or Movies... They are too entitled...

  • Jose Filipe | May 19, 2011 11:40 AMReply

    Way to go Sponge!

    That's exactly what I think.

    Did Hitler have good intentions? Did he not really intend to kill anyone? Who cares? If that was to be proved true, it would only make him a bigger fool for not realizing the horror he was unfolding... Did Lars play a fool of himself? Yes, quite clearly. He sounds very confused about himself, his own identity and European history. Ironically my favourite film by Lars is Europa...

    But then, maybe it just comes to prove, that you can meditate a lifetime upon a certain subject, and still come out quite confused in the end... (Or maybe it's just the rule of the abyss - when you look at the horror, it also looks back on you...)

    Peace and love

  • Eric | May 19, 2011 11:33 AMReply

    Here we have a celebrity who said that he "understands Hitler," and so he was asked to explain himself. It's truly sad that there will be people (like a lot of the commenters here) who will be angry that anyone dared to ask for an explanation. Especially if they think (like a lot of the commenters here) that the request for an explanation must be part of some vast pro-Israel conspiracy.

    Let's get real - Lars Von Trier hasn't been fined, or imprisoned, or assaulted for his comments. If you think that it's asking too much to request an explanation, then your moral compass is broken, period.

    It's also sad that anyone would claim that Helen Thomas is guilty of nothing but mildly criticizing Israel. (I'm referring to one of the comments above this one.) Helen Thomas said that all of the Jews need to leave the Middle East, which is comparable to someone saying that all of the blacks in the U.S. should go back to Africa. Once you've claimed that such a statement is just a "mild criticism of Israel," you've lost all credibility.

  • Jason | May 19, 2011 11:31 AMReply

    Truth should never be a popularity contest. Bravo for this man for initially speaking his mind without bowing down to any BS PC. People will never truly be free until they realize that they are more than the sum of their DNA, their family, their history, their politics, their religion, their beliefs. Unless you judge yourself while you are judging everything else, your opinions are like a protected cancer and are totally worthless and will be the continued cause for misery until the day you die. Mindlessly cheer leading your sacred cows while damning other for cheer leading THEIR sacred cows is like laughing at others for worshiping their invisible god and then you get down on your knees and worship YOUR invisible god.
    People act mostly like mindless robotic ants, scared to look up and see sky.

  • SAM | May 19, 2011 10:50 AMReply

    so he said he understands hitler.. big deal... the real issue people have with him is that he said he doesn't understand Israelis.

  • Spongebob43 | May 19, 2011 9:28 AMReply

    People, this is not about Israel or on what side is CNN or any other network.
    This man said he understands HITLER.
    understands what? That he killed millions of people, French, Germans, british, American,Russians, woman, children, gay, gypsies and millions of Jews, And I can continue the list on and on...
    Hitler not only killed millions, but also destroyed europe.
    THIS IS A NOT A LAUGHING MATTER.
    hitler was truly evil. So stop defending this stupid director.
    I don't care about the reasons he said what he said - for attention, for controversy, whatever...It doesn't matter. It's a nasty way to do it.
    He disgraced all the people who got murdered, raped, gassed and experimented on, and dishonored all the brave men and women that fought to rid the world of hitler and his evil plan for world domination. This stupid director can speak freely today because so many sacrificed their lives on Normandy beach and all over europe.
    This guy should really shut his mouth and take a good look at himself in the mirror - maybe better, build a time machine and join Hitler in his bunker in there last moments together.

  • Heather | May 19, 2011 8:21 AMReply

    Honestly, this was just a dumb thing to do, saying that he is a Nazi, when he isn't (or if he is, he lied in his apology), is just plain ridiculous, not only Jewish people are offended by Hitler and his beliefs, so of course this was going to upset a lot of people!
    But then again, like many people have commented, I believe that Von Trier just likes the attention, he needs to think before he speaks, think of Mel Gibson, he was in so many films and was respected, he then made racist remarks and is now in a movie about a talking beaver puppet, racism doesn't get you anywhere good.

  • rjfjddj | May 19, 2011 7:32 AMReply

    Well trolled mr von trier, 9/10 :-)

  • owengotowned | May 19, 2011 6:55 AMReply

    anthony is right and owen your an idiot

  • Diane Rubinstein | May 19, 2011 6:50 AMReply

    The Point here has nothing to do with Israel's policies. His observation about IIsrael by itself would not have made big splashes. Lars showed that behind all this mantra of intellectualism leaves a jew hater. It was an unrehearsed honest expression of what drives him: profound antisemitism.

  • owen | May 19, 2011 4:55 AMReply

    Anthony, your humour is very funny. Just like Lars's.The media is pro Israel? What planet do you live on? The sucking up the the arabs and the muslims is consuming the west and the ignorance about Israel (most people, like yourself , I'm sure, don't really know where it is and the size of it or anything at all about this tiny county ) is amazing. Reality check, my friend. Your'e just an ignorant , uninformed person, feeding of a very anti Israeli media. Sad. Sad for you and likes of you.

  • James P | May 19, 2011 4:16 AMReply

    Lars von Trier lacks the humanity to connect with the world in any real, meaningful way. Silly, ignorant filmmaking at its best/worst. Not worth the ink.

  • Kip | May 19, 2011 4:15 AMReply

    Better things, those were just words

  • Jim K | May 19, 2011 4:03 AMReply

    Give up, Von Trier haters. It obviously began as a bit of a joke, but then spiraled into a mess. And he has apologized. This was not a planned attack against Jews, nor Israel, nor was it an intentional pro-Nazi/pro-Hitler rant. Started out by saying he wanted to be Jewish, for f*ck's sake. It was actually pretty funny, especially watching Dunst squirming in her chair as Von Trier kept digging his hole deeper. Onto the next point then...

    Honestly, if anyone thinks that the media in the US is not pro-Israel, you need to pull your head out. It was refreshing to actually hear someone say publicly that Israel can be a pain in the ass, because you NEVER hear that type of candid statement in this country's media, even in the situation of a supposedly humorous comment. Take a look at footage of Israeli soldiers firing on and killing unarmed protesters last Sunday and witness the pain in the ass. But you'd probably have to go to Al Jazeera (dot) net to see any coverage of that.

  • Spongebob43 | May 19, 2011 2:48 AMReply

    People, this is not about Israel.
    Than man said he understands HITLER.
    understand what? That he killed millions of people, French, Germans, british, American,Russians, woman, children, gay, gypsies and many many Jews. And I can continue the list on and on...
    Hitler not only killed millions, but destroyed europe.
    THIS IS A NOT A LAUGHING MATTER.
    hitler was truly evil.
    So stop defending this stupid director.
    "he's not what I call a good guy" - really?
    Ugly really ugly. A disgrace to all those who died by hitler and to this who died fighting him.

  • Harriet Tubman | May 19, 2011 1:53 AMReply

    He is the Troma of the mainstream but not as much fun.He has that punk rockish Toxish.

  • johnnytwotoes | May 18, 2011 12:43 PMReply

    Another "open mouth, insert foot" moment for Lars. He seems to have a lot of these moments

  • Anthony | May 18, 2011 12:14 PMReply

    jasonfarm, who do you think you're fooling when you assert that most US media is not pro-Israel? The US press and politicians practically fall all over themselves to curry the favor of Israel. Israeli atrocities are given a paragraph buried somewhere in the back pages of newspapers (if noted at all). Criticism of Muslims and Arabs will get you a promotion. Criticism of Israel, however mild, will get you fired (ask Helen Thomas).

  • Ricardo | May 18, 2011 11:50 AMReply

    Shoot me, but I don't think Lars said anything outrageous.

  • matt | May 18, 2011 9:26 AMReply

    Von Trier struggles with mental health issues, so this isn't surprising. Do his films stack up to his hype is my question?

  • Matt Stone | May 18, 2011 8:55 AMReply

    Lars said something controversial? I'm shocked!!!LOLOLO. he' always saying or doing something controversial. That's who he is. I want to see his new movie. The preview looked awesome.

  • Gorge | May 18, 2011 8:53 AMReply

    Let me check my itinerary. No, nothing about Lars or Kirsten. I don't give a crap. I'm just looking for free or close to free stuff.

  • Sonny | May 18, 2011 8:44 AMReply

    Thought I would give a few comments myself, and no... English is not my first language so I apologize in advance for not expressing myself very good. (well - that I do know...;) )
    Like Lars von Trier I too come from the small Scandinavian country Denmark
    Lars is without a doubt the biggest film person to ever come out of Denmark. You may like his films or you may not, but you cannot argue that they are somethings else. I did not care much for "The Idiots" or "Breaking the Waves" but I was taken by "Epidemic". And the tv mini-series "Riget" (The Kingdom) is still some of the best my tv has ever shown.
    And yes, Lars has a tendency to make a fuss whenever he show himself. He does only come out from whereever he lives every few years, but when he does, it is always entertaining. (actually, he lives in a very ordinary house in a very ordinary town) You never really know if he is serious or joking, if he is nervous and camera shy or just playing the fool. My best guess is that he is most of the time trying to tell us not to take everything so bloody seriously.
    And about the jews; it is in no way a very big issue in Denmark so I am not surprised to see Lars talking without thinking first.
    (NB Did you know that Lars suffers from several fobias, one of them being the fear of flying? So he always travel by train, including when he is going to Cannes)

  • lacey | May 18, 2011 8:31 AMReply

    Rommel is right. Also, everything most people hear about pretty deep issues is quite flawed... news is completely biased depending on the country you come from, and history is written by the victors. Did Hitler really wake up every morning with the intent to kill as many jews as possible? Nope. But we act as if he's some maniac... obviously he had some prejudice going on and he was thinking way ahead in the future, trying to create what he believed to be the ideal society... but most people are way too dumb to even consider that Hitler thought he was doing what was right, didn't want to actually KILL anybody, and really was by definition of the term a "genius". Obviously most Jewish people are pretty great now, even if they did use to kidnap babies way back and shit like that which is wholly IGNORED nowadays... rock on lars. by the way, I'm quarter-Jew.

  • Rommel | May 18, 2011 7:43 AMReply

    To all the idiots dissing Mr. Von Trier: If you had 1 oz. of his genius, THEN you would be allowed to talk that crap. I applaud him for saying what he wants to say, and not what people want to hear.
    Cannot wait for MELANCHOLIA to make it to Canada!

  • Vince Pilutis | May 18, 2011 7:41 AMReply

    Sounds like a nut case

  • jasonfarm | May 18, 2011 7:39 AMReply

    i considered von trier to be probably the best or at least one of the top three best working directors for quite some time now, but this statement was out of line. He does like to be provocative, even when he did think he was a jew (his mother revealed to him he wasn't when he was in his thirties) he made films sympathetic to nazi's just to get a response (see his film school project Images of Relief). But knocking Israel is very bad taste, also i dont know who on here thinks america's news is pro israel, maybe fox news, but everything else, cnn abc nbc are all viciously liberal and anti israel.

  • Sa'ar | May 18, 2011 7:37 AMReply

    Poster #7 - some jews agree upon the state of Israel? How about over 6 million jews currently living there, and nearly twice as much who live across the world? How about the fact that it's an established country thats been here for the past 63 years, and not just a mere sentiment you can shrug away at your own free will?

    Another thing - without jews in Hollywood, there would be no Adam Sandler, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Steven Spielberg, Mila Kunis, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Barbara Streisand, Ben Stiller, Coen Brothers, Jesse Eisenberg, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Sacha Baron Cohen, James Franco, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eli Roth, Jon Favreau, Jeff Goldblum and many many more. Hollywood would be a very depressing place without some of these people - so why ditch them intentionally?

  • dan | May 18, 2011 7:32 AMReply

    His statement is pretty messed up even though it makes no sense what so ever. He seems too incoherent to be a filmmaker..

  • Mark | May 18, 2011 7:27 AMReply

    von Trier appears to be just rambling here. I am not surprised that he said what he did. He basks in being controversial, and most times, especially cinematically, he is. Still, I am very interested in seeing "Melancholia" after the unsettling experience that was "Anti-Christ." Creepy as hell.

  • sajjaad Lootfhaully | May 18, 2011 7:18 AMReply

    Hi, there everybody.
    I am sorry but I cannot find any freedom of opinion from anyone here. The guy is not antisemitic and is against the creation of the state of Israel which by the way, some jews agree upon? Isn't freedom of opinion one of the basics of democracy?!
    I don't see the big deal... or may Hollywood film industries are supported by some powerful people totally into Israel...I don't know, may be like someone call Spi....g. lol. Anyways, point is if you want your film to make money and continue making money in the future in the film industry, don't talk about jews or israel or Hitler cause alongside financial issues, you would not get people like Nathalie Port...m( she is awesome and definitely talented) to work with you. The gay fashion designer paid a very heavy price!
    @Lars, I understand that some controversial issues do make some people curious to go watch the movie but please DEAR director don't use subterfuge in order to market your product, you are already so talented!
    S.

  • kylie | May 18, 2011 7:04 AMReply

    lars is a bathroom drinker.i know him. he drinks and samples bowl contents aftr his and others eliminations, this will come out next week.

  • Frank | May 18, 2011 6:03 AMReply

    He's right. He is no Nazi, no Jew, he is just an idiot who is hungry for attention...

  • Razmuz | May 18, 2011 5:59 AMReply

    No Melanie he does not live on another planet. (But you might) The difference is that he lives in a country where News in the media are nuanced, and not completely biased (pro-Israel) as in the US.

  • Brandon | May 18, 2011 5:52 AMReply

    Trier often revels in being a jerk, just to get attention. It's not a trait I find admirable.

  • Melanie | May 18, 2011 5:45 AMReply

    His press conference has been the only interesting thing to come out of Cannes so far. It was like Charlie Sheen took over his body and just went to town. After seeing the anti-Christ I do believe this guy lives on a planet far, far away.

  • Gus | May 18, 2011 4:57 AMReply

    I'm amused that he is forced to issue an apology for statements made during the press conference, but that movies like Antichrist (and with a name like Antichrist) receive rapturous applause.