Melancholia‘s controversial director Lars von Trier is making headlines again, this time for vowing that he will not be making anymore public statements. The fallout after his remarks about being a Nazi sympathizer at the Cannes film fest earlier this year continue; not only has he been banned from Cannes, but today he was questioned by French police concerning charges of violating a French law against the justification of war crimes.
Von Trier’s incendiary remarks about being a Nazi, and understanding Hitler, have been haunting the talented director since earlier this year when he had one of his typical moments of verbal diarrhea. Not only is the Danish filmmaker known for being something of a provocateur, but he doesn’t seem to mind negative public backlash. This morning, though, after being approached by the authorities about possible charges, von Trier released a statement through his publicist that said he would refrain from all public statements and interviews.
Today at 2 pm I was questioned by the Police of North Zealand in connection with charges made by the prosecution of Grasse in France from August 2011 regarding a possible violation of prohibition in French law against justification of war crimes. The investigation covers comments made during the press conference in Cannes in May 2011. 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.
I’m not sure how likely von Trier is to stick to this vow, as he’s said things like this before. He reportedly told 24 Frames at Cannes that he wasn’t sure he would ever sit for another press conference, “I’m just an idiot that should stay home in Denmark and never talk to anybody.” But the threat of actual charges being brought against him for something he said must have him shaken.
I like to think of him as an eccentric artist who enjoys getting a rise out of people. He’ll say whatever he feels is inappropriate and offensive if it means stirring things up. I’m not apologizing for him, or his propensity to put his foot in his mouth, but the man can make movies and his films do have merit.
Melancholia screened at Fantastic Fest a few weeks ago, and von Trier actually took a few moments before the film to Skype with the audience. Even though it was a short Q&A, von Trier got in more than one remark that I found slightly offensive (one in particular about throwing things at the American embassy as a kid).
Still, I laughed off what he was saying because it was obvious that he was just rambling jokingly and trying to provoke the audience. Kind of like that asshole at the party who offends everyone, but still gets invited back for some reason.
The European distribution of Melancholia has already been adversely affected by his statements at Cannes. Questions of separating the “art” from the “artist” aside, it looks like von Trier should do some mental checks before he speaks, as what he is saying directly affects the future of his films (not to mention possible legal repercussions).