Lars Von Trier's Nazi Proclamation

Controversy courting Danish director Lars Von Trier has achieved the unenviable distinction of being the first ever director to be banished from the Cannes Film Festival for his comments. During a press conference to promote his entry at this years festival, Melancholia, he made quite possibly the biggest gaffe possible with opaque and somewhat muddied statements about sympathising with Hitler and suggesting that he too was a Nazi. Subsequent apologies and suggestions that he was making a joke, albeit in poor taste, have done nothing to dampen to furore.

In a genuinely cringe worthy clip, the star of his film, actress Kirsten Dunst is seen to be visibly uncomfortable as he digs himself an increasingly bigger hole as he expands on his comments (see below). With immediate effect Cannes issued a press release condemning his statements and effectively banning him from the festival.

"Cannes provides artists with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation," the board stated "We profoundly regret that this forum has been used by Lars von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the festival."

Many feel that what he said has been taken out of context and that it should have no bearing on his filmmaking. But following recent similar incidents in which Mel Gibson and John Galliano were caught on camera espousing similar sentiments it was an extremely ill advised statement which he will have been in no doubt would be perceived to be shocking.

The cynical view is that Von Trier has done this purposely to promote his (early reports suggest, somewhat lacklustre) film as he is no stranger to sensationalism. He was later quoted in the Danish newspaper 'Ekstra Bladet' as saying, "I'm proud to have been declared persona non grata. This is maybe the first time in film history that has happened”. Which to our ears does not suggest a man regretting his comments. Despite the fuss, the film has not been pulled from the competition so it appears that the ban is extended only to the director and not his work.

Time will tell if this spells the death knell for his career or if it creates the same kind of support that other artists of morally dubious standing (Roman Polanski springs to mind) appear to elicit. We shall continue to report on the Cannes controversy and it's implications as the festival progresses.


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