Friday, May 20, 2011

Lars Von Trier

An analysis of Lars Von Trier’s “controversial” press conference remarks

 "I hope you enjoy my film. I will now discuss my thoughts on Adolf Hitler in a lengthy and incoherent tangent - is that a problem?"

Lars Von Trier recently caused an uproar at the Cannes film festival because of statements he made during a press conference. In this post, I will analyze some key statements in an effort to discover the source of the controversy.

“I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, you know, because my family was German.”

Von Trier references the fact that all Germans are Nazis. Nothing controversial yet.

“What can I say, I understand Hitler.”

Proverbs 10:13 says, “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.” Clearly, Mr. Von Trier is a wise man. Understanding is a positive trait that should be commended, not condemned.

“I think he did some wrong things, but I can see him sitting in his bunker.”

I totally agree with Von Trier here. The fact of the matter is that people sometimes do wrong things. Cursing in traffic, cheating on a boyfriend or girlfriend, starting a world war and systematically murdering millions of innocent people - these examples serve as reminders that people make mistakes.

As for the second part of the statement, I can also see Hitler sitting in his bunker. With so many Downfall parodies gracing the Internet in recent history, I doubt anyone would have a problem imagining this scene.

[Kirsten Dunst laughs uncomfortably] “There will come a point at the end of this.”

This quote is impressive because it suggests that Von Trier may have some precognitive abilities. While he never really arrived at a cogent point in his speech, there was a significant event after the press conference in which organizers banned Von Trier from the Cannes film festival. But still I wonder, why?

“I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit.”

This quote appears controversial at first glance, but upon closer inspection it really isn’t. Von Trier says that he sympathizes with Hitler a little bit. Certainly, at some point in his life, Hitler caught a cold. We all know how annoying it is to suffer through congestion, a runny nose and constant sneezing. Therefore, we can all sympathize with Hitler a little bit.

“I am of course very much for Jews, no not too much because Israel is a pain in the ass.”

I must admit that this quote was a little strange in that there was literally no pause in between “I am of course very much for jews” and “no not too much”. Ultimately however, the quote highlights the obvious point that if one disagrees with the policies of the Israeli government, one must discriminate against all Jews. Like Von Trier’s earlier reminder that all Germans are Nazis, this is simply a statement of fact.
“Ok, I’m a Nazi.”
Another quote that appears controversial, but is at best ambiguous. Remember, Oskar Schindler was a Nazi so clearly not all Nazis are bad. Further questioning would be required to really understand what Von Trier is trying to convey in this highly ambiguous and abstruse statement.

So there you have it, Lars Von Trier’s “controversial” press conference. If anyone figures out what all the fuss was about, please let me know.

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