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Lars von Trier on ‘Melancholia’: “Maybe it’s crap”

Lars von Trier on 'Melancholia': "Maybe it's crap"

Is Lars von Trier happy with his latest film, “Melancholia?” “Yes,” the director said emphatically Wednesday morning following the initial screening of his latest in Cannes. But as part of an often hilarious press conference peppered with nervous laughter from both the film’s star Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg as well as the assembled journalists pelting him with questions that meandered from the movie to the personal, von Trier contradicted his initial response.

“It was a big pleasure to do the film,” added von Trier. “All this darkness stuff we put in, we got carried away. Everything got over romantic, but it was nice to do. When I saw the stills from it, I kind of rejected it a bit. So, I’m not really sure…”

Then he declared, “Maybe it’s crap actually. Of course I hope not, there’s quite a bit of possibility this is really not worth seeing.”

Dunst along with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard and Brady Corbet were among the film’s stars who joined von Trier for the rousing conversation Wednesday morning. While this year he did not declare himself “the best film director in the world,” like he did back in 2009 in Cannes for “Antichrist,” he managed some rather blockbuster comments, leaving one journalist sitting next to indieWIRE to gasp as the press conference wrapped up, “There are so many headlines here, I don’t know where to go with this.”

Even before von Trier entered the room, journalists were snapping photos of him and his – apparently – new tattoo (difficult to tell if it’s permanent) from the monitors in the hallway inside the Palais des Festivals where he was being interviewed via closed circuit television by a festival representative. Von Trier sported the letters F – U – C – K on his four right fingers.

Consistent with his previous – though rare – interviews, von Trier was jovial, even mildly hazing the stars of his film. The 45 minute conversation veered in many directions, with the director sometimes sounding somewhat serious, saying “I feel that I’ve overcome this ‘melancholy state.’ I now read books and have stopped drinking. I have become boring, but I feel good – even though I’m philosophically against not drinking.”

Then, he would interrupt himself and jump randomly to a different topic.

Lars von Trier showed off his tattoo at the press conference for “Melancholia” in Cannes. Photo by Brian Brooks.

After several questions about the film, von Trier abruptly said that he wanted to talk about his “next film,” turning to Dunst he said it was “going to be a porn,” and that it was Dunst and Gainsbourg who insisted on the “project.”

“We had fun doing this film, but I would like to talk about my next film which is – as Kirsten insisted – is going to be a porn film. Kirsten and Charlotte want a really hardcore film and I’m going to do my best,” he said with a straight face, adding, “I said there should be a lot of dialog in between [sex scenes] but they said ‘no. There should just be a lot of unpleasant sex.’ And this will be three or four hours long and that’s only because it will make this press conference later [next time].”

Dunst leaned back and laughed, while some in the audience roared while others in the audience seemed bewildered. Charlotte Gainsbourg said that she has gotten to know von Trier more since her last stint with the director in “Antichrist,” which prompted von Trier to turn to her and say, “Oh, I’ve gotten to know you very well and from every possible angle,” possibly referring to her skin shots in “Antichrist.” Von Trier also lavished some attention on Udo Kier, who made an appearance in von Trier’s “Dogville” in 2003 and “Manderlay” in 2005.

“Having the ability to typecast Udo Kier as a homosexual was fantastic,” said von Trier who then turned to him and added, “Your performance was fantastic, I don’t know where you get it from…”

When asked why von Trier doesn’t try doing a comedy for his next film considering the amount of laughter going on in the press conference, he turned back to his latest film saying, “Oh, ‘Melancholia’ is a comedy. You should see what happens when I try tragedy.” Von Trier has often been open about his bouts with depression and even said that everyone on the panel with him understood depression. “Can I say that?” he said turning to Dunst. “Otherwise, forget it…”

Asked about the title, von Trier simply said that “Melancholia” was “a good title,” and noted that all good art that he appreciates contains “melancholia.” “‘Melancholia’ comes from a longing,” he seemed to say seriously. “For me, there is an element of longing.”

Von Trier’s serious face morphed back to jokes and rambles when asked about his background, saying he had thought he was Jewish earlier in life but then was disappointed to find out he was not. Then he started to joke about his German roots, which seemed to go a bit further than even he had hoped. No doubt these words are what will make the headlines…

“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…”

Then perhaps realizing he was digging a hole, he cried, “Oh god, How can I get out of this sentence…? OK, I’m a Nazi. This movie was done on a great scale. Yeah, that’s what we Nazis do – we do things on a grand scale.”

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