Lars von Trier issues new, improved condemnation of his Nazi remarks


Image Credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

Don’t try to defend Lars von Trier. He is now denouncing himself.

The Danish director was expelled from the Cannes Film Festival last week after making some bad-taste jokes about being a Nazi, sympathizing with Hitler, and considering Israelis “a pain in the ass.” He apologized immediately, and obviously wasn’t being serious — though the remarks will still hurtful to many.

Even those close to him, such as Kirsten Dunst, who won the festival’s best actress prize for her role in his end-of-the-world drama Melancholia, have criticized him for what he said in the movie’s press conference, calling his remarks “idiotic.”

But when the oppressive Iranian government leaps to your defense with a letter slamming the festival …? Apparently, von Trier has decided he doesn’t need friends like that.

He denounced his own remarks anew today …

Von Trier didn’t try to defend his statements, but tried to explain his attempted point in clumsily comparing himself to one of history’s worst monsters:

“In my opinion, freedom of speech, in all its shapes, is part of the basic human rights,” von Trier wrote. “However, my comments during the festival’s press conference were unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful.”

“My intended point was that the potential for extreme cruelty, or the opposite, lies within every human being, whatever nationality, ethnicity, rank or religion. If we only explain historical disasters with the cruelty of individuals we destroy the possibility of understanding the human mechanisms, which in turn are necessary in order to avoid any future crimes against humanity.”

The statement came in response to the Iranian government’s letter of protest to the Cannes Film Festival over von Trier’s expulsion. But not only has Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the Holocaust a “myth” and called for the destruction of Israel, but Iran has a hostile relationship with the Cannes festival, which this year featured a smuggled work, This Is Not a Film, about its imprisoned filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who is facing a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for criticizing the regime.

Last year, an empty seat was included in the jury because of Panahi’s detention in Iran. So when the Iranian government saw a chance to hit back over Von Trier’s personal banishment from the festival as a violation of free speech, the director chose to side with the festival for banning him.

In other words, an abusive dictator is sympathizing with him this time. But von Trier has learned not to accept such comparisons.

On Twitter: @Breznican.

Comments (18 total) Add your comment
  • Bobby’s Robot

    He’s such an over-praised hack, always depending on shock value.

  • Rhys

    Oh well, I still buy his movies.

  • pie thrower

    In other words, an abusive dictator is sympathizing with him this time…

    And that my friends is why some words are simply too dangerous. Hitler was a brilliant speaker who influenced thousands to adopt hatred over an entire race of people. What Von Trier calls sarcasm is taken seriously by others. The poison spreads and herein lies your next Holacaust.

    As a Jew, Von Trier does not offend me. He scares me. He scare me with his words and “sarcastic” philosophy which will only be adopted by others. Eventually, someone’s influence could grow too powerfully. For this reason, just like Mel Gibson’s, his art should not be supported, endorsed, nor encouraged. It only provides a man like this with the resources and mechanisms to make his “jokes” and comments resonate throughout the world.

    • Bob

      So basically anybody who says anything against what you believe is evil incarnate regardless of context, and we should burn their movies, and basically shun them out of society. Maybe you are right that history is repeating itself, but this time, it’s you.

  • DFSF

    Bwahahaha, that is just too rich. Exactly what that arrogant hole deserves, thumbs up from Iran. Lol.

  • Anne

    What Von Trier doesn’t get is that there’s a difference between “free speech” and “completely consequence-free speech.” The absolute most basic definition of free speech is that you have the right to say whatever you want and not get imprisoned or killed for it. Free speech means the GOVERNMENT, whatever government that might be, doesn’t have the right to shut you up. But there is NOTHING to prevent others from thinking you are a moron for what you say, or to prevent others from being horrified by it. “Free speech” doesn’t mean other people have to sit in silent acceptance of what you say.

    The fact that speech is free does not absolve a thinking person from responsibility for what his/her words ultimately cause. I think a lot of Americans fail to understand that, right along with Von Trier.

    • Jay

      I like your comment Anne. Slam dunk. ( Applause! )

      • Tom

        You must censor yourselves. Anne will be horrified if not. Ignorance is strength.

      • Bob

        I’m so horrified. What will I ever do now? Aaarghh.. Is american idol on yet?

  • T

    I fail to understand what was so offending in vonn triers ramblings.

    In reference to his newly found german ancestors he called him self a nazi. At top mildly offensive to germans.

    Then he tried to convey his interest in nazi art and aestetics, incl. the arcitecture of Albert Speer. Indeed clumsy delivered but nothing offending here. His viewpoint is from an artist, and even if he were not, any intelligent person should be able to seperate and discuss different parts of nazi germany, such as the nazis fondness of german romantisism or architecture.

    Then he clumsily tried to talk about humans inherited evil and that every person on earth has a bit of hitler in them. Nothing offending here.

    Then he said tongue in cheek that he loves jews although israel is a pain in the ass. This was the only partily political statement he made, and is not really that offending.

    What is disturbing though, is the facsistic behaviour from mass media and the band wagon effect that followed. That is something we should analyze and discuss.

    • W

      Totally agreed T. I think the media loves to pigeon hole public figures that says anything about Hitler. Von trier is not the most graceful speaker and he has lots of enemies in the film industry. Cannes used his statement as an excuse to ban him from the festival once and for all because he can be a pain in the ass. The institution wants to protect themselves from more controversy coming from Von Trier. Statement aside, does not change the fact that he is by far one of the most interesting and influential filmmakers of the past two decades.

  • Joseph p bell

    breznican : when will you re write ; Controller (plays with himself ) reliving the horror of his lies .. Sliney is a liar and committed Treason on 911 and i can prove it . show me your guts .

  • Joseph p bell

    Sliney was the Chief of the FAA on 911 at the headquarters in Herndon ,va. but when he testified aat the 911 commission , he was listed has Radar Manager in NY. . watch the video from that session . go to 911 Commission ; last meeting ,last session , and listen to him .. and Read “Touching History “, just the way Zelikow and Kean (historians ) wrote the 911 Report , 500 +pages of lies .. The 3rd meetind , was abusiness conference in N.Jersey at Keans old school > Breznican adds his name to the Guilty parties of 911 .

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