Lars Von Trier isn’t known for holding back, for holding for tongue, or for saying the right things at the right time. And he’s lived up to his reputation during a press conference for new film Melancholia at the Cannes Film Festival.
As quoted by MTV Movies, Von Trier said:
“The only thing I can tell you is that I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very happy being a Jew … but it turned out that I was not a Jew. If I’d been a Jew, then I would be a second-wave Jew, a kind of a new-wave Jew, but anyway, I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, because my family is German.”
“And that also gave me some pleasure. So, I, what can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things 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.”
Reading it written down like that will probably have left you speechless, but seeing the video does help put it in context a little. You can see Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg looking a little stunned at what is coming from Von Trier’s mouth but he plows on regardless digging himself a deeper hole as he does.
Lars Von Trier is stupid to have said what he said. But I don’t believe he meant it in the sense some people have assumed. He can see him trying to conjure up the correct words to explain his feelings and failing miserably. He was clearly building to a point which then unfortunately got missed.
The fact I’m even trying to defend Von Trier shows how ill-advised the comments he made were. But he’s apologized and I think we should all move on now. Cannes had no choice but to distance itself from the comments and the man, but I’m sure he’ll be back bolder than ever.
The whole controversy surrounding Von Trier has certainly livened up a rather dull Cannes Film Festival. And that can’t be a bad thing. Unlike being a Nazi, obviously.