Lars von Trier has had his fair share of bad press across the years, from his sympathetic view on Hitler as stated at a press conference in Cannes, to the very nature of his films that often seem provocative for the mere sake of it. As a result, in 2011, the director retired from public speaking after being declared “persona non grata” by the Cannes Film festival for his comments calling himself a “Nazi”. His relationship, therefore, with modern cinema, is somewhat tinged, proven by the fact that he rarely watches contemporary films at all, stating: “Out of principle, I do not see any film from the time I began to make films”.
“The worst thing would of course be if I liked them,” the director added, who, if his statements are true, hasn’t seen a new film since 1982. For such a prolific contemporary director, we’d take this statement with a large grain of salt, especially considering that he has previously revealed that one of the only modern films he’s seen is 1999s The Matrix.
Speaking in an interview von Trier stated that: “I came to see ‘The Matrix’. It was fucking good. But the problem is that I am now unable to do action scenes in slow motion”. Considering that the director usually dabbles in dark, brooding dramas, his love of The Matrix is oddly endearing; turns out he’s not totally bleak and all-consuming. It’s also totally conceivable that von Trier was inspired by the Wachowski sisters’ film when creating the haunting opening scene for his 2011 film Melancholia which utilised ethereal slow-motion to translate the suffering of the lead character Justine (Kirsten Dunst).
Since his controversial comments at Cannes in 2011, the director has returned to the Film Festival, bringing The House That Jack Built in May 2018 which experienced a conflicting response including 100 walkouts and a 10-minute standing ovation. Speaking about the initial screening the Danish director commented: “That is fine with me…it is important that a film divides”. He also went on to describe his filmography as ‘a stone in the viewer’s shoe’, though said his latest film was more like “a bacteria in your stomach”. In his most provocative statement, the director said: “I am disappointed that it was only 100 people that vomited. I would have liked 200 people to vomit”.
It’s somewhat endearing to know that Lars von Trier is a great lover of The Matrix, perhaps due to the original film’s eclectic roots and dedication to striking, imaginative imagery. Thinking about it, we’d love an action film directed by the prolific European director. It would be a wild, strange and grossly dark journey, but one that would certainly capture the imagination of fans worldwide, we imagine it as a mix of Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible and 2015’s Victoria.
Perhaps he’ll announce it after he goes to see The Matrix 4…