‘Antichrist’ arriving imminently

Not quite sure how this slipped under my radar but here’s a link to a really interesting interview with Lars von Trier, conducted by Dave Kehr, from last Sunday’s New York Times. Von Trier, who has openly called himself the best filmmaker working today (though perhaps with a less-than-perceptible degree of irony), usually comes off in interviews and press conferences as being more concerned with provocation and grandstanding than with actually discussing his art or the sensibility which determines the composition of that art; thus, this interview is refreshingly candid and insightful with regard to his latest film, the much-discussed Antichrist, which premiered this summer at Cannes.

Here’s a bit that I thought was particularly interesting, in which Charlotte Gainsbourg offers her personal take on von Trier’s feelings towards his female characters (the female protagonist is, of course, a staple of von Trier’s oeuvre):

“He puts women on a pedestal and then pushes them off, but I find that quite brilliant. There is a lot of mystery around his female characters. I can see the fear of women, but there’s no hatred.

“Of course he pictures her as the devil and all that,” she said of her character, “but he pictures himself as the devil. To me there’s a real link between him and the character.”

Von Trier also discusses his signature approach to cinematography and how it had to be revised due to the debilitating depression he was struggling to recover from while shooting Antichrist:

“I have a technique where I usually handle the camera myself,” Mr. von Trier said, “but because of this depression I was shaking so much I couldn’t hold it. It was humiliating a little bit actually.” Instead he turned over the responsibility for operating the shoulder-mounted digital camera to Anthony Dod Mantle, a cinematographer who won an Oscar for his work on “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The Slumdog Millionaire thing is news to me, as is Antichrist‘s American release date of October 23rd. The initial release will be limited, but as I’ve mentioned here before, I sincerely hope that Antichrist comes to Madison in one form or another by the end of the year. Yes, it’s probably got moments of unspeakable gruesomeness. Yes, it probably takes itself a bit more seriously than it’s willing to admit. No, it probably isn’t von Trier’s masterpiece. But it’s a serious achievement by a director with a penchant for making truly envelope-pushing, convention-stomping, termite films. We always need more of those.

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