RT Interview: Lars von Trier on Antichrist

The Danish director on his controversial latest.

by | July 22, 2009 | Comments

RT Interview: Lars von Trier on Antichrist

If you go down to the woods today… Well, just don’t. Danish provocateur Lars von Trier‘s arthouse psychohorror Antichrist is the most controversial film of the year — and the most gruelling. Written by von Trier while he was bedridden with depression, it sees Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a grieving couple who retreat to a woodland cabin to recover from the death of their baby son. But healing quickly turns to horror as their wounds are ripped wide open: hardcore sex, ultraviolence, emotional meltdown, graphic torture and, um, a talking fox. It’s a bizarre, powerful, audacious curio that’s tough to swallow but even harder to ignore. Having spent his career ripping up the cinematic rulebook with daring, dazzling movies like The Idiots, Dancer In The Dark and Dogville, von Trier calls Antichrist the most important film of his life.


Antichrist

[tomatometer]MuzeID=1210830[/tomatometer]

It’s a great title for a horror film…

Lars von Trier: I always thought it was a good title. It’s not really a horror film and it’s not really religious. So if it’s a good title for this film, I don’t know! But it’s a good title.

Did you expect Antichrist to be so controversial?

LvT: No, not really. That suits me fine. I could see that in Cannes that there were people beforehand that had decided already either not to like it or like it. But very few countries are going to censor the film. The only country in Europe that’s going to censor it is Germany. In America, we don’t know yet. It’s not a big problem for me.

How did you persuade Willem Dafoe to star?

LvT: Originally, we were thinking of younger people. But Willem sent me a letter asking if I had some work for him. And I said, ‘Sure!’ He was a little reluctant to start with, but then my wife did this brilliant thing. She said, ‘You dare not take the part!’ And you shouldn’t say that to Willem! So he jumped in.

Is it true that Eva Green wanted to play the female role?

LvT: We spent a long time looking for the female. And yes, Eva Green wanted to do it so we nearly had a Bond girl in the film! We had lots of discussions but her agents definitely didn’t want her to do it. We wasted two months. I was so mad, because you can’t wait two months.

So how did you get Charlotte Gainsbourg?

LvT: Charlotte came in and said, ‘I’m dying to get the part no matter what.’ So I think it was a decision she made very early and she stuck to it. We had no problems whatsoever.

Antichrist

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist.

Was she worried about the nudity and violence?

LvT: After reading the script and discussing with me how those scenes were going to be made, there was never any doubt in her mind. That’s fantastic. And I’m very, very happy that she got the Best Actress prize in Cannes. It was a courageous performance because she is a very, very shy person.

What about the hardcore sex scenes?

LvT: We used porn actors. In fact, it was funny, for the scene in which she masturbates him and the blood comes out, they just kept on going. I could not understand it. And then someone told me that in porn you are not allowed to stop until the director tells you! So this poor guy was incredible…

Do you worry that audiences with get numbed to the violence?

LvT: Yeah, yeah, of course. But when you think about all the footage we now see from real life, I feel like you can show anything. But then when it becomes fictional, there’s a limitation. So it’s very strange.

You’ve been suffering from depression for some time. How did that affect you on this film?

LvT: I felt like an old man that was helped through the film by the actors. I was not at my very best, so all the things that I normally enjoy, I was not able to do. I couldn’t direct and handle a camera at the same time. I just didn’t have the mental capacity. I have been under therapy for several years.

RT Interview: Lars von Trier on Antichrist


Antichrist

[tomatometer]MuzeID=1210830[/tomatometer]

People are accusing you of misogyny again. Did you ask your wife she thinks of the film?

LvT: No, but I don’t usually; I don’t trust her. Because she’s said for a long time, ‘Why are you depressed? You made the very best film.’ And I said, ‘But you haven’t seen it.’ She said, ‘Yes, but I know.’ Come on! How can you trust her? She’s very, very positive about whatever I’m doing in life. I love my wife very much. She’s fantastic in that way, because she supports anything. Absolutely anything. So I don’t trust her in that sense! But it’s very nice. It’s what you want, yes.

Do you worry that people will hate the film?

LvT: I don’t think about that. I kind of consider myself to be the public. What kind of film would I like to see? How would I like to be provoked? Then some of the audience share my views, some does not. Thank God, some people do react like me! This idea in Hollywood that you can produce a film that will hit a broad audience – and you do test screenings to see when people laugh – it would be impossible for me.

Did it upset you that critics in Cannes laughed at the talking fox?

LvT: I was not there at the screening. But I think I can hear the different between that kind of laughter and laughter from somebody who has decided to hate the film from the start.

But is the fox a joke?

LvT: No, it comes from these Shamanic journeys that I did. It’s not like getting onto a plane! Yes, I am still afraid of that. You have a drum beat and you go into a trance that takes you into this parallel world. And there, I talked to this fox and it demanded to have a line.

Antichrist

Willem Dafoe in Antichrist.

Did he say anything else?

LvT: Well, the first fox I met was a red fox. And it started to split itself to pieces. And afterwards, I met a couple of other foxes. Silver foxes with little cubs. And they said to me, ‘Never trust the first fox you meet.’ So it was interesting.

Is your movie a Shamanic journey?

LvT: That would be very nice. Shamanic journey is very personal. There’s nothing religious about it at all. But it’s great fun.

So what’s your Shamanic animal?

LvT: An otter. Yes! It’s nothing you decide. It’s what popped up.

What will you do now?

LvT: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I can’t even think about making another film at the moment. There’s nothing there. I like gardening. I’m sat in my garden right now and it’s very peaceful. I’m really a nature man. I spend as much time as I can in nature. I feel really safe there.

Antichrist is out in the UK on Friday and in the US on 23rd October.

Tag Cloud

Character Guide harry potter Nickelodeon justice league Kids & Family Set visit Certified Fresh Masterpiece Song of Ice and Fire Cosplay Toys Photos historical drama Watching Series Fantasy Starz Star Wars BBC America spy thriller A&E 2016 zombies Disney Dark Horse Comics YouTube Red period drama Martial Arts cooking ITV dceu History festivals cats crossover Reality Ovation serial killer Red Carpet 2015 National Geographic Mystery what to watch President Oscars WGN Awards TV Drama composers Sundance FOX SDCC hist Writers Guild of America Super Bowl Universal Paramount GLAAD Freeform ratings VICE Sony Pictures Emmys CMT dc Music Sci-Fi Biopics Nat Geo vampires Western crime Summer 24 frames TCM Premiere Dates YA Spring TV NBC Hulu medical drama Winners Comic Book Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ghostbusters Pirates Paramount Network See It Skip It Pop cults RT History 2017 technology USA Network TIFF crime drama Syfy PaleyFest TV Land supernatural VH1 Schedule crime thriller Year in Review TNT CBS All Access Animation Comedy Central Food Network Thanksgiving HBO Acorn TV Reality Competition Bravo OWN GIFs Lucasfilm ESPN SundanceTV E3 Showtime SXSW based on movie IFC sitcom Nominations Ellie Kemper dramedy CW Seed Sneak Peek Podcast LGBTQ Trailer police drama Country Opinion Apple docudrama discovery TruTV cinemax PBS Creative Arts Emmys 45 TLC Mary Tyler Moore BET psycho APB thriller Box Office First Look Lionsgate Extras Video Games Logo IFC Films Pixar Mindy Kaling Comedy ABC Family The CW Tomatazos Polls and Games Christmas Musicals unscripted sports AMC Adult Swim FXX GoT Holidays X-Men diversity finale Valentine's Day TBS Crackle Walt Disney Pictures politics transformers TCA Star Trek YouTube Premium war comiccon Cartoon Network Netflix El Rey Sundance Now Teen DC streaming service aliens Marathons DirecTV Calendar MSNBC USA singing competition blaxploitation Spike Musical Lifetime DC Comics Disney Channel TCA 2017 Rock travel boxoffice Rocky 007 biography Trivia political drama Infographic binge Tumblr CNN talk show Britbox Fox News DC Universe adventure Countdown Fall TV E! Esquire Columbia Pictures Action ABC cops NYCC Marvel romance Rom-Com 20th Century Fox Best and Worst science fiction Warner Bros. golden globes Election 21st Century Fox Superheroes social media MTV CBS Interview mutant American Society of Cinematographers The Arrangement FX BBC Grammys Amazon robots Winter TV Superheroe streaming zombie Shondaland Horror