It has been three years since Lars von Trier was declared persona non grata at Cannes, following his comments during the press conference for “Melancholia,” leading to his subsequent decision to no longer speak to the press. Well, he’s now broken his media silence, with startling news about his newest personal battle and how it might affect his future as a filmmaker. “I don’t know if I can make more films, and that worries me,” he plainly states.
Opening up to Politiken, von Trier reveals he’s now ninety days sober, attending daily AA meetings at the behest of his family, who have encouraged him to cut down on his drinking. However, von Trier candidly reveals that he fears that by being clean, the creative spark that helped drive his previous movies (all made under the influence, minus “Nymphomaniac“) will be lost, and he’ll be left with making “shitty movies.” But moreover, he fears his audience will no longer be interested in his work.
“Obviously, the parallel world has its price, but I got an enormous amount out of it. Just like all the artists I have respected the most. They have also wallowed in all sorts of mind-expanding drugs,” von Trier explains. And the director says getting clean hasn’t led to the revelations he thought it would.
“I don’t feel that it’s working. I thought it would give me a huge epiphany and a new spark or whatever, and it hasn’t,” von Trier states. “You retreat to a lesser post when you begin to put away the intoxicants, because doing so means you’re not 100% committed to what you want to do. Of course, you use the intoxication in the act of creating. That’s obvious. So in a way, it’s a step down. It can only result in crap.”
And the filmmaker believes there is a power in the act of creating something while high or drunk, something that can’t be replicated without the aid of drugs and alcohol. “Who the hell cares about Rolling Stones when you don’t have a sense that they’ve just emptied a bottle of Jack Daniels? That’s nonsense,” von Trier says. “Or Jimi Hendrix without heroin or whatever he was on. That’s rubbish; we can’t be bothered with that. We don’t want that, because we want their special approach through something mysterious, which is still somehow connected to various intoxicants, right? But when I work, I’ll miss the intoxication, or rather, I may come to miss it. That’s the point. I think it’s really dreary to try to be sober. But I am.”
If this seems like von Trier being his usual provocative self, it’s worth watching the video at the link above because it’s clearly evident the director is really grappling with living clear and sober, and how it will affect his creativity. And as for what this means for his next project, the massive English language TV project “The House That Jack Built,” due for release in 2016, is not certain, but if it goes forward, there will be a new von Trier behind the camera.