Intensely awkward in interviews, Lars Von Trier let his tongue run too far at the press conference for “Melancholia” on Thursday May 19. Von Trier noted that he knew Charlotte Gainsbourg “from all angles” and later made several references to making a long porn film featuring her and Kirsten Dunst.
As the conference drew to a close, the director, who won the Palme d’Or with “Dancer in the Dark,” was asked about comments he made in a recent interview regarding his interest in the Nazi aesthetic.
“No, that was a joke”
“I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very happy being a Jew,” he said (referring to the fact he discovered only late in life that he was German). “Then later on came (Jewish and Danish director) Susanne Bier and then suddenly I wasn’t so happy about being a Jew. No, that was a joke, sorry. But it turned out I was not a Jew – but even if I’d been a Jew I would be kind of a second rate Jew because there is kind of a hierarchy in the Jewish population. But anyway, I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out I was really a Nazi, you know, because my family was German, Hartmann, which also gave me some pleasure.”
It looks very likely that Von Trier has a mouth that works on its own. But Dunst and the reporters were not sure how to take his comments.
…”not what you call a good guy…”
“What can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. I think I understand the man. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I’m not for the Second World War, and I’m not against Jews. I am of course very much for Jews. No, not too much because Israel is a pain in the ass. But still, how can I get out of this sentence?”
The fuss will inevitably be misinterpreted, misquoted and used against the film. He looks as if this is supposed to be a joke.
I can’t help thinking the festival organisers made a very wrong decision in this matter. I thought Von Trier’s comments about Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kirsten Dunst were far more offensive than his lame attempt at Nordic humour. But I wonder what the festival organisers will make of this: Iron Sky. Will they be just as uptight and sanctimonious?
“That was a joke”? I can’t agree.