Lars von Trier, director of the film Melancholia, has taken his controversial nature one step too far, as far as the coordinators of the Cannes Film Festival are concerned. Yesterday morning, at a press conference about his latest film, von Trier made some remarks that can only be regarded as idiotic, referring to himself as a “Nazi” and saying, “I understand Hitler.” He has apologized publicly for the statements, but that did not soothe the powers that be. Due to his statements, von Trier has been made into a “persona non grata,” which Wikipedia tells me means “an unwelcome person,” at the festival. In short, he has been banned.
It may seem completely justifiable that they would kick him out for such remarks, but that is because what I just wrote was taken entirely out of context. Read on to see exactly what he said in all of its awkward glory, and why this whole thing has been blown completely out of proportion.[Via ScreenDaily]
Cleaned up transcript: “I really wanted to be a Jew, and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, because my family was German, which also gave me some pleasure…. What can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker… I’m saying that I think I understand the man. He is not what we could call a good guy, but yeah, 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 of course very much for Jews. No, not too much because the Israelis [are] a pain in the ass. How can I get out of this sentence?… Okay, I’m a Nazi….”
Watching that video is pretty painful, and I really feel for Kirsten Dunst. Regardless, it is hugely obvious that he is not serious, and he even gets a few laughs from the audience. He was stupid to say those things, but they cannot possibly be misconstrued as actual sympathy for Nazis or Hitler. He was making a joke, and he kept running with it in an attempt to save face. It wasn’t a particularly funny joke, and perhaps it was in poor taste, but this is the same guy who said that his next film is an epic hardcore porn film featuring the leads of Melancholia. Taste is clearly not his main goal. This is just the way that he is. These comments were made in jest, and so it becomes very obvious that those who denounce von Trier fall into one of two groups: A) They don’t have any sense of humor or B) They are scared of backlash from group A. I would say that the people who kicked him out of the festival fall into category B.
Those people are cowards. This was a cowardly move, and it sets a terrible precedent. He made a mistake. He apologized to the people in group A. It should have been left at that. That it went further is ridiculous. The only saving grace is that his film is still a part of the festival, because punishing the rest of the cast and crew would have really been unforgivable. But who knows, maybe this will end up working in von Trier’s favor. There’s no such thing as negative press, so they say.