Observations: The Antichrist comes to Cannes in a camper van
Friday 08 May 2009
Just about now, Lars von Trier will be trundling off in a camper van (he hates to fly) from Denmark to France for the Cannes premiere of his latest feature, Antichrist. The journey takes five days there and five days back.
It is a trek he has made many times as films such as Breaking the Waves, The Idiots, Dancer in the Dark and Dogville have screened at the festival.
Even so, his presence this year comes as a slight surprise. In 2006, when he reached 50, the Danish director issued a proclamation announcing that it was "time to narrow down". He complained about feeling burdened "by barren habits and expectations (my own and other people's)." His new films, he promised, would be promoted with less fanfare.
But the lure of Cannes has proved too strong. Besides, there's a lot riding on Antichrist. While Von Trier remains Denmark's most famous filmmaker, he hasn't had an international hit in several years. Dogville (2003) and Manderlay (2005) divided critics and failed to attract mass audiences. His lowish-budget, shot-by-computer Danish comedy about office politics The Boss of It All (2006) seemed parochial and tame. Zentropa, the company that he and his business partner Peter Aalbæk Jensen had formed in 1992, merged with Scandinavian major Nordisk last year. While there may have been sound business reasons for such a move, it still seemed like a symbolic loss of independence.
Von Trier hasn't disclosed too much in advance about Antichrist. Original plans to make the film were abandoned when Aalbæk Jensen disclosed too many plot details to journalists. Von Trier was so annoyed that he "punished" his producer by making the resolutely non-commercial Manderlay instead. It stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe as a grieving couple who retreat to their cabin in the woods, "hoping a return to Eden will repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage". But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.
The trailer suggests a film in the vein of The Shining or The Exorcist – a full-blown exploitation pic, complete with plenty of animals and some very graphic sex scenes. There are lines like "nature is Satan's church". There is a Hieronymous Bosch-like sequence in which Dafoe and Gainsbourg make love in the woods as dozens of hands reach out around them from a tree's stems. Von Trier is also working intensively with animals for the first time. A Czech animal trainer was brought in to control a supporting cast that includes deer, crows and foxes. Von Trier being Von Trier, CGI trickery has apparently been kept to a minimum and the animals have actually had to perform on camera. It's about time Von Trier had a critical and commercial hit – but is Antichrist the film to provide it?
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
- 2 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 3 Playboy model April Summers speaks out about being a victim of revenge porn
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
Jay Z's Tidal could be about to lose Beyonce's music in ultimate humiliation
Royal Academy of Arts' Tim Marlow: Bronze statue of lovers embracing at St Pancras station is a lesson in 'how not to do' public art
Britain's Hardest Grafter: Petition set up as Twitter reacts to BBC 'poverty porn' series pitting low-paid workers against each other
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
Big Brother contestant Aaron Frew removed from house for 'inappropriate behaviour' after flashing fellow contestants
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'