The other day Lars von Trier showed a teaser of the third (and final) season of his TV series “The Kingdom”, the first episodes of which were released in the 1990s. Continuation of the story we will see this fall, but now we offer to remember why we both love and dislike the Danish director in 6 interesting facts from his biography.
The aristocratic “background” in the last name is fake.
The director’s real name is Lars Trier. In the 1980s, as a student at the National Danish Film School, Lars added the “background” to his name for greater effect. One theory has it that he was inspired by the Austrian-born American filmmaker Josef von Sternberg. It’s funny that a lot of the teachers at film school thought Lars was a selfish, untalented guy who would never amount to anything in life.
Doesn’t adhere to his own Dogmas
In 1995, together with Thomas Vinterberg von Trier wrote the purist manifesto of the film movement “Dogma 95”. Danish directors called for purity and simplicity in filmmaking and proposed a “vow of chastity” prohibiting, for example, the use of props, sets, voice-over music and new technology in films. The big words were followed by only one “dogmatic” picture per picture – in particular, von Trier made do with only “The Idiots” (1998). Already in 2006, from commitment to the manifesto remained nothing, and Lars released a comedy “The Biggest Boss”, where as the operator is … a computer.
Hypochondriac and depressive man
In the mid-noughties von Trier suffered from clinical depression, struggled with anxiety and alcoholism, which led to a series of infamous interviews and made some scandalous statements during press conferences in Cannes. In 2007, the director even announced that he would no longer make films, although, as we know, he made many more films after that, including Melancholia, in which he apparently embodied his own pain. Lars also suffers from hypochondria and paranoia – for example, for a long time he was convinced he had cancer, and also feared a swan attack while swimming in his kayak.
He’s crazy about Tarkovsky (but it wasn’t mutual)
Lars von Trier is a huge fan of Andrei Tarkovsky. He openly admires the Russian director’s work, quotes from his footage, and dedicates his films to him (we’re talking about “The Antichrist”; before the film premiere, the director said, “I’ve been stealing so much from Tarkovsky all these years. So in order not to get arrested, I had to dedicate a film to him. I should have done it a long time ago.”)
In 2012, von Trier even tried to buy Tarkovsky’s personal archive with private correspondence, audio recordings, photos, and scripts at a Sotheby’s auction. In the end, the Danish director had to give the official representative of the Ivanovo region, where there is a house-museum of Tarkovsky and the film festival “Zerkalo” named after the Russian classics. The lot went under the hammer for three million dollars.
It is interesting that Tarkovsky himself, having seen Lars von Trier’s debut film, “Element of Crime” in 1984, said: “Very weak.”
Incredibly afraid of flying
Like many famous directors, von Trier suffers from aerophobia. Even Dancing in the Dark, the film dedicated to the American dream, was shot by Lars in his native Denmark because he couldn’t get on a plane to the USA. At one time, because of a fear of flying to America, the director turned down an opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg.
Many people also think that von Trier simply hates the United States because in his films “Dogville” and “Manderlay” the director speaks extremely harshly about the country. True, von Trier denies this in his interviews. “It would be stupid to hate part of the world,” he said in 2014. – I’d like to visit America, but I don’t think I could stand a few hours on a plane.
It’s adored by Tarantino
The great cinephile Quentin Tarantino calls Lars von Trier’s Dogville one of his favorite movies. The American director says it is “probably one of the greatest screenplays ever written for a movie.” Moreover, Tarantino believes that if the drama with Nicole Kidman had been a play, it would have won the Pulitzer Prize, one of the most prestigious U.S. awards in literature, journalism, music and theater.