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(Credit: Zentropa Entertainments)

Film

When Lars von Trier revealed Ingmar Bergman's masturbation problems

Lars von Trier has often spoken about his deep admiration for Ingmar Bergman’s cinema. On other occasions, he publicly claimed that he wanted Bergman to die so that other Scandinavian filmmakers get a portion of the widespread recognition that had been offered to Bergman over the course of his illustrious career.

In the list of von Trier’s favourite films of all time, the Danish auteur included three of Bergman’s greatest works – Smiles of a Summer Night, Wild Strawberries and Through a Glass Darkly. Lars von Trier has even claimed that he has seen everything Bergman ever made but that doesn’t mean he likes all of it.

In fact, he controversially stated that one of Bergman’s most acclaimed opuses – Fanny & Alexander – was actually one of his worst. “All he did in Fanny & Alexander was to throw his highlights together to tell a story in a really primitive way,” von Trier declared. “It was primitive and made for a mass audience, and it was something he ought to have been ashamed of.”

His obsession with Bergman extends beyond the realm of cinema, the exact extent of which became evident when he appeared in the 2013 documentary Trespassing Bergman and spoke about the legendary filmmaker. During his segment, one subject that von Trier was especially interested in was Bergman’s masturbation addiction.

“His cock was a big problem for him,” the Danish director said. “He was constantly horny. Even as he got older and older.” According to von Trier, Bergman “masturbated like crazy” wherever it was possible ranging from his monastery on the island of Fårö to his famous libraries as well as the theatre he had in his home.

Trespassing Bergman featured comments from the likes of Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Claire Denis, Robert De Niro and many more but it was von Trier’s amazing rant that has become the most infamous part of the documentary. Lars von Trier insisted that it wasn’t exactly a revelation since Bergman had admitted to the problem himself.

“This power figure in Swedish cultural life sat there jerking off like crazy,” von Trier added. “I imagine he had a small seminal vesicle… When we talk about icons, it’s important to remember that they shit just like we shit just like we shit, they vomit just like we vomit and they masturbate just like we masturbate.”

Listen to Lars von Trier’s comments on Ingmar Bergman below.