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Defend Lars Von Trier!

So, you’ll probably remember this:

Von Trier’s offending words came in response to a question about his German roots. Seemingly joking, Von Trier announced himself to be a Nazi, after expressing sadness that he hadn’t been born Jewish. As the atmosphere became increasingly tense, and Melancholia stars such as Kirsten Dunst sought to staunch his flow, Von Trier continued: “What can I say? I understand Hitler. He did some wrong things, absolutely, but I can see him sitting there in his bunker at the end … I sympathise with him, yes, a little bit.”

The festival organisers subsequently issued a statement saying they had asked the director for an explanation. This followed an hour later, when Von Trier said: “If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologise. I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.” But his contrition does not appear to have been sufficient for the board, headed by president Gilles Jacob, to whom the matter was referred.

He was then banned from the festival. Later Von Trier said this:

“I think one of the reasons is that the French themselves treated the Jews badly during the second world war. Therefore it is a touchy subject for them. I highly respect the Cannes festival, but I also understand that they are very angry with me right now. I’m no Mel Gibson, but once again I would like to say sorry everybody.”

The latest news – and I cannot quite believe it is true – is this

A statement from Lars von Trier

Today at 2 pm I was questioned by the Police of North Zealand in connection with charges made by the prosecution of Grasse in France from August 2011 regarding a possible violation of prohibition in French law against justification of war crimes. The investigation covers comments made during the press conference in Cannes in May 2011. Due to these serious accusations I have realized that I do not possess the skills to express myself unequivocally and I have therefore decided from this day forth to refrain from all public statements and interviews.

Lars von Trier
Avedøre, 5. October 2011

Right.

As far as I can see, nothing Von Trier said constituted “justification of war crimes”. It was stupid, and objectionable, and idiotic – and no doubt would offend many people. But criminal?

I suppose there’s always the possibility that this report is inaccurate. If it is accurate, however, I’m astonished.

Lars Von Trier is, perhaps, the worst director whose films I have had the misfortune to watch. Dancer in the Dark (starting Bjork) is certainly the worst film I have ever seen. It comprises a ponderously obvious “savage indictment” of American culture, in which a poor Czech girl is framed and hanged for a “murder” committed while she tries to defend herself from a US police officer who tries to rape her. She goes blind during the course of the film, and ultimately refuses to pay for a lawyer who could save her life, so that she can leave enough money for her son who (unbeknownst to him) needs medical treatment to save him from blindness. She sings and dances all the way through, which is at least slightly diverting.

The political message is so heavy handed, that for the first hour and a half of the film, I thought Dancer in the Dark was a clever parody of “films like that”.

Basically, Von Trier is a bore, not a Nazi. A criminal investigation is the sort of unlikely thing that would happen in one of his tedious films.

So, defend Lars Von Trier!

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