Lars von Trier facing investigation over Hitler comments


Image Credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

Danish film director Lars von Trier says he’s facing charges of violating a French law against justification of war crimes over statements he made about Adolf Hitler and Jews during the film festival in Cannes.

Von Trier addressed the investigation in a brief statement Wednesday that he said would be his last, ever.

“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,” von Trier said.

The director said he was questioned by police in North Zealand, Denmark, in connection with charges made by the prosecution of Grasse in France.

Von Trier was ejected from the Cannes Film Festival in May after expressing sympathy for Hitler at a news conference for his film Melancholia.

In a rambling speech, the filmmaker spoke about his German heritage, saying his ancestry made him “sympathize with (Hitler) a little bit.” He added that he supports Jews. The director said afterward he had been joking and later issued an apology.

He later retracted the apology, telling GQ magazine that he wasn’t sorry, but wished he had made clear that he was joking.

Peter Aalbaek Jensen, co-founder with von Trier of the Zentropa film company, said he had talked to the director Wednesday, and confirmed he did not wish to speak to the media ever again.

“He has decided today to muzzle himself. He takes this extremely seriously,” Aalbaek Jensen said.

“He is a colorful and entertaining person and he has never had the intention or wish to offend anyone,” Jensen said. “He has now spent five months explaining himself. He is a self-declared socialist and humanist and speaks up for the little people. It would be absurd if he started to praise them (Nazis).”

Von Trier’s comments ignited shock from the moment they spilled out of his mouth, causing Kirsten Dunst, an actress in his film Melancholia, to lean over and whisper to von Trier, “Oh my God, this is terrible.”

“What can I say? I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things, yes, absolutely. But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end,” von Trier said at the time. “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 very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass.”

North Zealand police spokesman Henrik Suhr didn’t return calls seeking a comment and the police officer on duty declined to comment on the case.

Malin Rising in Stockholm contributed to this report.

Read more:
Lars von Trier on ‘Nymphomaniac’
Lars von Trier issues new, improved condemnation of his Nazi remarks

Comments (30 total) Add your comment
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  • pie thrower

    Lars von Trier is such a waste of a person he isn’t worthy to eat my own feces.

    • question

      Are your feces by chance also pie, like the taco that pooped out ice cream in South Park?

      • LingLing

        Oh those French. Better late than never. You get those nazis. Go Baby Go!

  • kyle

    To bad the French couldn’t be this tought against Hitler when he was actually killing people but I guess late is better than never.

    • question


    • Pat

      What are you talking about you halfwit, he was killing their people, do you not know anything about the war?

  • Lane Turney

    To quote the profound Alanis Morisette “Isn’t it ironic, dontcha think?’ that the international media is perpetrating the same fascist tendencies towards freedom of expression as the Nazis did?

    • hmmm

      no. moron.

  • Barry

    This is complete BS; another example of how the Jewish people run things.

    • Ethan

      There’s actually no indication that Jewish people did anything here besides, I guess, suffer in the holocaust. This was just the French government’s reaction, which is probably an overreaction. But ya know, thanks for the random antisemitism.

    • basil

      are u antisemetic because that is a very offensive comment berry

      • Barry

        Learn how to spell ass hole.

    • Scott

      Jewish people run things? Right, because things always go just swell for them.

  • Ethan

    This whole story is a profound overreaction. One of the thing with Von Trier’s movies is that he wants his characters and, on occasion, his audience to suffer. He identifies with suffering, and so should it be so shocking that he expresses a little comaraderie in one tiny moment of Hitler’s suffering at the end of his life? It’s because Hitler was so evil and wrong that Von Trier stupidly chose to identify with him. He likes the suffering and isolation of an individual who has caused his own suffering that he has fondness for (which is what a lot of his movies are about, and, ya know, clearly he feels that way about himself), not the holocaust.

  • Kelley

    What is with all the Hitler comments lately? OK, people, if you don’t want a huge backlash, stop with the Hitler references! Just leave his name out of any conversation unless you are a history professor. There, fixed!

    • LingLing

      It is on the history channel every day. If you want people to stop with the Hitler references, jokes, jabs, etc, it would a good idea to LET IT GO. Maybe?

  • Bamaphilip

    I LOVE AND SUPPORT HITLER! (Not really but I am so glad to be in America where any little comment can’t garner you a criminal investigation.)

  • T Brunnander

    Overreaction, to say the least. Bad joke, fantastic moviemaker.

  • Bob

    The French get their panties in a wad over stupid comments by a director but they are fine with keeping a convicted and admitted rapist (Polanski) out of prison? The French are stupid.

  • dirtywithclass

    I myself am a jew, and i think the french government is wayyyyyy overreacting people. Just because someone makes a dumb comment doesn’t mean they need to be investigated.

  • Ranch Mubay

    Wow, the French are anti-Freedom of Speech? What a bunch of Hitlers.

    • Micheal


  • Pat

    Never heard of this moron, but I wonder if he would like Hitler if his family had been dragged away to gas chambers? I also wonder if the Americans would be condemning the French if Hitler had invaded America? How would they like it if some unknown film director said he understood the Japanese for bombing Pearl Harbour?

  • News Hit

    This is frustrating. He was not justifying war crimes: he basically said that he learnt that his heritage was not Jewish, but German and thus he was a Nazi. Then, he said that he understood Hitler. He did not say that he liked him or admired his policies, just that he recognised what it is like to be prosecuted. The only people who should have been offended by the joke are the Germans: he suggested that being German is the same as being a Nazi, which is ridiculous in a contemporary climate. However, this is such an extraordinary overreaction, I just can’t believe it. There are so many worse crimes (if you could call this a crime), and worse people, in the world. Why would you bother with someone who just tried to make a (admittedly poor) joke? I mean, didn’t France protect Polanski from extradition after his crimes against Samantha Geimer?

    • My Name

      Hitler wasn’t even German, he was Austrian

  • Jack

    It’s all a bit pathetic really. Whatever anyone thinks of his comments he apologised immediately after when he realised he’d caused offence (although I fail to see who was actually offended when all he was doing was referring to himself and his heritage), and that should be the end of it.
    Just feels like the French gov are over-compensating for an era that still embarrasses the nation. So the Cannes Film Festival expel him because they’re too clueless to act any other way, and the French authorities prosecute him. Ironically, these actions are more suited to Nazi censorship over anything else. Ignorant, hysterical thought always ends up becoming what it strives to expunge.

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