May 19, 2011 / 2:14 PM / 8 years ago

Factbox: Controversy follows Lars von Trier

(Reuters) - Here are some facts about Lars von Trier, the Danish film director who was expelled from the Cannes film festival on Thursday after jokingly declaring himself a Nazi at a news conference.


— Von Trier came to prominence with the crime film “Forbrydelsens element” (1984; “The Element of Crime”), the first in an eventual series known as the Europa trilogy, which stylishly explored chaos and alienation in modern Europe.

— In 1995 von Trier and Danish director Thomas Vinterberg wrote a manifesto for a purist film movement called Dogme 95. Participating directors took what the group dubbed the “Vow of Chastity,” which among other rules, forbade the use of any props or effects not natural to the film’s setting, in order to achieve a straightforward form of narrative-based realism.

— A year later he made “Breaking the Waves,” a grim tale about a pious Scottish woman subjected to brutality that was anchored by a bravura Oscar-nominated performance from Emily Watson. It embodied much of the spirit of Dogme 95, though it was not technically certified as such.

— In the end, the only official Dogme 95 film that Von Trier directed was “Idioterne” (1998; “The Idiots”), a highly controversial work that centred on a group of people who publicly pretend to be developmentally disabled.


— Von Trier’s harrowing melodrama “Dancer in the Dark” won the Golden Palm for best movie at Cannes in 2000. Icelandic pop singer Bjork played a Czech immigrant in the film who saves her paltry factory wages to pay for an operation for her son who suffers the same disease that is making her go blind. The film, Von Trier’s first musical, reduced the audience to tears at its festival screening and was widely expected to win.

— Von Trier attracted further attention for “Dogville” (2003), an austere tale about the United States, starring Nicole Kidman.


— Von Trier said the outrage that greeted “Antichrist” at the Cannes festival in 2009 was music to his ears.

— It starred Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe as a couple who struggled to cope with the loss of their young son,

— Explicit scenes of love-making, graphic violence and sexual self-mutilation, not to mention a talking fox, made it one of the most talked-about films at the festival for years.

— Von Trier was angrily asked to justify his film at a press conference and early reviews generally agreed that the film was misogynistic, deliberately provocative and turgid. “I feel very good about it,” von Trier told Reuters.


— He was born Lars Trier on April 30, 1956 in Copenhagen.

— Von Trier attended the National Film School of Denmark.

— Von Trier, often referred to as the “enfant terrible” of contemporary cinema, avoids reading reviews of his work, although he has suggested he is not impervious to what people say.

Sources Reuters/

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;

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