A grieving couple is consumed by the loss of his child. They decide to go to a cabin called "Eden", in the middle of the fores, with hopes of finding peace within their hearts and to rebuild their marriage by being in contact with nature. But nature follows its course, and things start to worsen gradually.
Written and directed by / Lars von Trier
Cinematography / Anthony Dod Mantle
Original Score / Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Editing / Anders Refn, Åsa Mossberg
Produced by / ZENTROPA en co-Production con Film i Väst, Lucky Red, Liberator Productions, Slot Machine, Arte France, Danish Film Institute, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen
Starring / Charlotte Gainsbourg y Willem Dafoe
Alemania, Dinamarca, Francia, Italia, Polonia, Suecia. 2009
Ficción, 108 min.
Lars von Trier
Denmark, 1956. Danish film director and screenwriter with a prolific and controversial career spanning almost four decades. His work is known for its genre and technical innovation; confrontational examination of existential, social, and political issues; and his treatment of subjects such as mercy, sacrifice, and mental health.
Among his more than 100 awards and 200 nominations at film festivals worldwide, von Trier has received: the Palme d'Or (for Dancer in the Dark), the Grand Prix (for Breaking the Waves), the Prix du Jury (for Europa), and the Technical Grand Prize (for The Element of Crime and Europa) at the Cannes Film Festival. In March 2017, he began filming The House That Jack Built, an English-language serial killer thriller.
Von Trier is the founder and shareholder of the international film production company Zentropa Films, which has sold more than 350 million tickets and garnered seven Academy Award nominations over the past 25 years.
He studied film theory at the University of Copenhagen and film direction at the National Film School of Denmark. At 25, he won two Best School Film awards at the Munich International Festival of Film Schools for Nocturne and Last Detail. The same year, he added the German nobiliary particle "von" to his name, possibly as a satirical homage to the equally self-invented titles of directors Erich von Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg, and saw his graduation film Images of Liberation released as a theatrical feature.
In 1984, The Element of Crime, von Trier's breakthrough film, received twelve awards at seven international festivals including the Technical Grand Prize at Cannes, and a nomination for the Palme d'Or. The film's slow, non-linear pace, innovative and multi-leveled plot design, and dark dreamlike visual effects[not in citation given] combine to create an allegory for traumatic European historical events.
His next film, Epidemic (1987), was also shown at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section. The film features two story lines that ultimately collide: the chronicle of two filmmakers (played by von Trier and screenwriter Niels Vørse) in the midst of developing a new project, and a dark science fiction tale of a futuristic plague – the very film von Trier and Vørsel are depicted making.
Von Trier has occasionally referred to his films as falling into thematic and stylistic trilogies. This pattern began with The Element of Crime (1984), the first of the Europa trilogy, which illuminated traumatic periods in Europe both in the past and the future. It includes The Element of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987), and Europa (1991).
Von Trier directed Medea (1988) for television, which won him the Jean d'Arcy prize in France. It is based on a screenplay by Carl Th. Dreyer and stars Udo Kier. Trier completed the Europa trilogy in 1991 with Europa (released as Zentropa in the US), which won the Prix du Jury at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, and picked up awards at other major festivals. In 1990 he also directed the music video for the song "Bakerman" by Laid Back. This video was re-used in 2006 by the English DJ and artist Shaun Baker in his remake of the song.
Main article: Zentropa
Seeking financial independence and creative control over their projects, in 1992 von Trier and producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen founded the film production company Zentropa Entertainment. Named after a fictional railway company in Europa, their most recent film at the time, Zentropa has produced many movies other than Trier's own, as well as several television series. It has also produced hardcore sex films: Constance (1998), Pink Prison (1999), HotMen CoolBoyz (2000), and All About Anna (2005). To make money for his newly founded company, von Trier made The Kingdom (Danish title Riget, 1994) and The Kingdom II (Riget II, 1997), a pair of miniseries recorded in the Danish national hospital, the name "Riget" being a colloquial name for the hospital known as Rigshospitalet (lit. The Kingdom's Hospital) in Danish. A projected third season of the series was derailed by the death in 1998 of Ernst-Hugo Järegård, who played Dr. Helmer, and that of Kirsten Rolffes, who played Mrs.Drusse, in 2000, two of the major characters.
Inventing the Dogme 95 manifesto
Dogme 95 Certificate for Susanne Bier's film Open Hearts
In 1995 von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg presented their manifesto for a new cinematic movement, which they called Dogme 95. The Dogme 95 concept, which led to international interest in Danish film, inspired filmmakers all over the world. In 2008, together with their fellow Dogme directors Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg received the European film award for European Achievement in World Cinema.
In 1996 von Trier conducted an unusual theatrical experiment in Copenhagen involving 53 actors, which he titled Psychomobile 1: The World Clock. A documentary chronicling the project was directed by Jesper Jargil, and was released in 2000 with the title De Udstillede (The Exhibited).
The Golden Heart trilogy
Von Trier achieved his greatest international success with his Golden Heart trilogy. Each film in the trilogy is about naive heroines who maintain their "golden hearts" despite the tragedies they experience. This trilogy consists of: Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), and Dancer in the Dark (2000). While all three films are sometimes associated with the Dogme 95 movement, only The Idiots is a certified Dogme 95 film.
Breaking the Waves
Breaking the Waves (1996), the first film in his Golden Heart trilogy, won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and featured Emily Watson, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Its grainy images, and hand-held photography, pointed towards Dogme 95 but violated several of the manifesto's rules, and therefore does not qualify as a Dogme 95 film.
The second film in the trilogy, The Idiots (1998), was nominated for a Palme d'Or, with which he was presented in person at the Cannes Film Festival despite his dislike of traveling.
Dancer in the Dark
In 2000 von Trier premiered a musical featuring Icelandic musician Björk, Dancer in the Dark. The film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. The song "I've Seen It All" (co-written by von Trier) received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
The Five Obstructions
The Five Obstructions (2003), made by von Trier and Jørgen Leth, is a documentary that incorporates lengthy sections of experimental films. The premise is that von Trier challenges director Jørgen Leth, his friend and mentor, to remake his old experimental film The Perfect Human (1967) five times, each time with a different "obstruction" (or obstacle) specified by von Trier.
The Land of Opportunities films
A proposed trilogy, von Trier's Land of Opportunities consists of Dogville (2003), Manderlay (2005), and Wasington, which is yet to be made. Dogville and Manderlay were both shot with the same distinctive, extremely stylized approach, placing the actors on a bare sound stage with no set decoration and the buildings' walls marked by chalk lines on the floor, a style inspired by 1970s televised theatre. Dogville (2003) starred Nicole Kidman and Manderlay (2005) starred Bryce Dallas Howard in the same main role as Grace Margaret Mulligan. Both films have casts of major international actors, including Harriet Andersson, Lauren Bacall, James Caan, Danny Glover, and Willem Dafoe, and question various issues relating to American society, such as intolerance (in Dogville) and slavery (in Manderlay).
The Boss of It All and The Early Years
In 2006 von Trier released a Danish-language comedy film, The Boss of It All. It was shot using an experimental process that he has called Automavision, which involves the director choosing the best possible fixed camera position and then allowing a computer to randomly choose when to tilt, pan, or zoom.
Following The Boss of It All, von Trier scripted an autobiographical film, The Early Years: Erik Nietzsche Part 1 [da] in 2007, which went on to be directed by Jacob Thuesen. The film tells the story of von Trier's years as a student at the National Film School of Denmark. It stars Jonatan Spang as von Trier's alter ego, called "Erik Nietzsche", and is narrated by von Trier himself. All the main characters in the film are based on real people from the Danish film industry, with thinly veiled portrayals including Jens Albinus as director Nils Malmros, Dejan Čukić as screenwriter Mogens Rukov, and Søren Pilmark.
The Depression trilogy
The Depression trilogy consists of Antichrist, Melancholia, and Nymphomaniac. The three films star Charlotte Gainsbourg, and deal with characters who suffer depression or grief in different ways. This trilogy is said to represent the depression that Trier himself experiences.
Von Trier's next feature film was Antichrist, a film about "a grieving couple who retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping a return to Eden will repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage; but nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse". The film stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It premiered in competition at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where the festival's jury honoured the movie by giving the Best Actress award to Gainsbourg.
Melancholia and the Cannes press conference incident
In 2011 von Trier released Melancholia, a psychological drama. The film was in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Known to be provocative in interviews, von Trier's remarks during the press conference before the premiere of Melancholia in Cannes caused significant controversy in the media, leading the festival to declare him persona non grata and to ban him from the festival for one year (without, however, excluding Melancholia from that year's competition). Minutes before the end of the interview, Trier was asked by a journalist about his German roots and the Nazi aesthetic in response to the director's description of the film's genre as "German romance". The director who was brought up with his Jewish father, and only found out in later life that his biological father was a non-Jewish German, appeared offended by the connotation and responded by discussing his German identity. He joked that since he was no longer Jewish he now "understands" and "sympathizes" with Hitler, that he is not against the Jews except for Israel which is "a pain in the ass" and that he is a Nazi. These remarks caused a stir in the media which, for the most part, presented the incident as an antisemitic scandal. The director released a formal apology immediately after the controversial press conference and kept apologizing for his joke during all of the interviews he gave in the weeks following the incident, admitting that he was not sober, and saying that he did not need to explain that he is not a Nazi. The actors of Melancholia who were present during the incident – Dunst, Gainsbourg, Skarsgård – defended the director, pointing to his provocative sense of humor and his depression. The director of the Cannes festival later characterised the controversy as "unfair" and as "stupid" as von Trier's bad joke, concluding that his films are welcome at the festival and that von Trier is considered a "friend".In 2019, von Trier stated that he made this remark at the "only press conference I ever had when I was sober."
Following Melancholia, von Trier began the production of Nymphomaniac, a film about the sexual awakening of a woman played by Charlotte Gainsbourg.
In early December 2013, a four-hour version of the five-and-a-half-hour film was shown to the press in a private preview session. The cast also included Stellan Skarsgård (in his sixth film for von Trier), Shia LaBeouf, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Bell, Christian Slater, and Uma Thurman. In response to claims that he had merely created a "porn film", Skarsgård stated "... if you look at this film, it's actually a really bad porn movie, even if you fast forward. And after a while you find you don't even react to the explicit scenes. They become as natural as seeing someone eating a bowl of cereal." Von Trier refused to attend the private screening due to the negative response to Nazi-related remarks he had made at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, which had led to his expulsion from it. In the director's defense, Skarsgård stated at the screening, "Everyone knows he's not a Nazi, and it was disgraceful the way the press had these headlines saying he was."
For its public release in the United Kingdom, the four-hour version of Nymphomaniac was divided into two "volumes" – Volume I and Volume II – and the film's British premiere was on 22 February 2014. In interviews prior to the release date, Gainsbourg and co-star Stacy Martin revealed that prosthetic vaginas, body doubles, and special effects were used for the production of the film. Martin also stated that the film's characters were a reflection of the director himself and referred to the experience as an "honour" that she enjoyed.
The film was also released in two "volumes" for the Australian release on 20 March 2014, with an interval separating the back-to-back sections. In his review of the film for 3RRR's film criticism program, Plato's Cave, presenter Josh Nelson stated that, since the production of Breaking the Waves, the filmmaker von Trier is most akin to is Alfred Hitchcock, due to his portrayal of feminine issues. Nelson also mentioned filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky as another influence whom Trier himself has also cited.
In February 2014, an uncensored version of Volume I was shown at the Berlin Film Festival, with no announcement of when or if the complete five-and-a-half-hour Nymphomaniac would be made available to the public. The complete version premiered at the 2014 Venice Film Festival and was shortly released in a limited theatrical run worldwide that fall.
The House That Jack Built and the return to Cannes
In 2015, von Trier started to work on a new feature film The House That Jack Built, which was originally planned as an eight-part television series. The story is about a serial killer, seen from the murderer's point of view. Shooting started in March 2017 in Sweden, with shooting moving to Copenhagen in May.
In February 2017, von Trier explained in his own words that The House That Jack Built "celebrates the idea that life is evil and soulless, which is sadly proven by the recent rise of the "Homo trumpus – the rat king". The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film's initial screening at Cannes Film Festival saw more than 100 walkouts by audience members, but also saw a 10-minute standing ovation.
- 2018 — The House That Jack Buitl
- 2013 — Nymphomaniac: Vol. I
- 2013 — Nymphomaniac: Vol. II
- 2011 — Melancolía
- 2010 — Dimension 1991-2004
- 2009 — Anticristo
- 2007 — To Each His Own Cinema
- 2006 — The Boss of It All
- 2005 — Manderlay
- 2003 — Dogville: The Pilot
- 2003 — The Five Obstructions
- 2003 — Dogville
- 2001 — D-gag
- 2000 — Bailando en la oscuridad
- 2000 — D-dag
- 1998 — Lars Von Trier & The Idiot All Stars: You're a Lady
- 1998: Los idiotas
- 1994-1997 — El reino
- 1996 — Contra viento y marea
- 1994 — Joachim Holbek: The Shiver
- 1994 — The Teacher's Room
- 1991 — Europa
- 1990 — Laid Back: Bet It on You
- 1989: Laid Back: Bakerman
- 1988 — Medea
- 1987 — Epidemic
- 1984 — The Element of Crime
- 1982 — Befrielsesbilleder
- 1978 — The Orchid Gardener
- 1969 — A Chess Game
- 1969 — A Dead Boring Experiencie
- 1968 — Good Night, Dear
- 1967 — The Trip to Squash Land
Festivales y Premios
- Mejor Actriz: Charlotte Gainsbourg
- Mejor Director de Fotografía: Anthony Dod Mantle
EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS 2009
- BODIL AWARDS 2010
Mejor Fotografía: Anthony Dod Mantle
Mejor Actriz: Charlotte Gainsbourg
Mejor Actor: Willem Dafoe