Sometimes actors say stupid things. Sometimes actors, directors, filmmakers…artists…can say stupid things. We all can, but provocative Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier has gone one further, going so far as say that he himself is a Nazi and that he ‘sympathises’ with Hitler.
During a press conference at Cannes for his new movie Melancholia, an apocalyptic tale focussing on Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s squabbling siblings as the end of the world approaches, Von Trier, when asked about his German roots, answered: “For a long time I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew, then I met Susanne Bier [fellow Danish director] and I wasn’t so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family was German. That also gave me pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler. I sympathise with him a bit.
“I don’t mean I’m in favour of World War II and I’m not against Jews. In fact I’m very much in favor of them. All Jews. Well, Israel is a pain in the ass … How can I get out of this sentence? OK, I’m a Nazi.”
Stunned journos, uncomfortable Melancholia cast members aside Von Trier, all looked bewildered by his comments, yet it is hard to know just how to take them. Famously controversial, wilfully provocative, with a reputation as something of an interview prankster. Von Trier revels in causing outrage (his previous film Antichrist featured a blood-spurting penis and female genital mutilation, for starters) so should these comments be taken up front and at face value? Maybe, or maybe not. But he might be about to test the theory that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’.