Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Zentropa Entertainments)

Film

The bizarre moment Lars von Trier called Roman Polanski a “midget”

Lars von Trier is no stranger to controversy, with the director often finding himself at the receiving end of public ire due to his own behaviour as well as the controversial nature of his works. There have been many condemnable incidents involving von Trier, including the time when he was accused of sexually assaulting Björk.

In an investigation led by The Los Angeles Times, evidence surfaced that von Trier had allegedly sexually harassed the Icelandic music icon while making his award-winning film Dancer in the Dark. The director denied all such allegations and the film’s producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen claimed that the real victims were von Trier and him, but further examinations revealed that Jensen’s studio Zentropa had a history of sexual harassment incidents.

At the 1991 iteration of the Cannes Film Festival, von Trier ended up winning the Jury Prize for his film Europa and he famously took to the stage to call Roman Polanski a “midget”. No, he did not make those comments because of Polanski’s sexual abuse case as many would have expected since Polanski and his enablers have received a lot of backlash over the years.

Instead, von Trier only called Polanski a midget because he was super pissed off about not winning the festival’s top honour – the coveted Palme d’Or. Although he did end up getting the Palme d’Or for Dancer in the Dark, von Trier was soon banned from the festival after he made some of the most outrageous comments during an interview.

At a press conference, von Trier said that he understood what Hitler was going through: “I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. I think I understand the man.” To make matters worse, he even hinted that he was thinking of a project about Hitler called The Final Solution.

The Cannes committee immediately released a statement announcing the suspension of von Trier, claiming that it would not tolerate the director’s insensitive comments even though he later clarified that he was joking. Since Melancholia, von Trier has directed other projects such as Nymphomaniac as well as The House That Jack Built and the latter caused walkouts after being screened at Cannes.

Watch the video of Lars von Trier calling Roman Polanski a “midget” below.