Director Lars Von Trier.
(photo credit: Reuters)
In a strange and rambling speech Danish director Lars Von Trier told a stunned
audience at the Cannes film festival on Wednesday morning that he sympathized
with Hitler, thought Israel was “a pain” and was himself a Nazi.
press conference for "Melancholia," the director who won the Palme d'Or in 2000
was asked to expand on comments he made in an interview about his interest in
the Nazi aesthetic.
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"I thought I was a Jew for a long time and was very
happy being a Jew," said Von Trier, who, according to biographies was told by
his mother on her death bed that the father he had known all his life was not
his real father.
"Then later on came (Jewish and Danish director) Susanne
Bier and then suddenly I wasn't so happy about being a Jew. No, that was a joke,
sorry." "But it turned out I was not a Jew but even if I'd been a Jew I would be
kind of a second rate Jew because there is kind of a hierarchy in the Jewish
population." "But anyway, I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out I was
really a Nazi, you know, because my family was German ... which also gave me
some pleasure." "Melancholia" star Kirsten Dunst looked uncomfortable as he made
his remarks, which took reporters by surprise.
"What can I say? I
understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can
see him sitting in his bunker in the end.
"I think I understand the man.
He's not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him and I
sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I'm not for the Second World War,
and I'm not against Jews.
"I am of course very much for Jews. No, not too
much because Israel is a pain in the ass. But still, how can I get out of this
sentence?" He expressed admiration for Nazi architect Albert Speer before ending
another rambling sentence with: "OK, I'm a Nazi." One reporter asked whether he
could imagine making a movie that was even bigger in scale than "Melancholia."
"Yeah, that's what we Nazis ... we have a tendency to try to do things on a
greater scale. Yeah, maybe you could persuade me." He also muttered "the final
solution with journalists." As the press conference broke up, Dunst, who was no
longer smiling, could be heard saying: "Oh Lars, that was intense." Jewish
groups were quick to criticize the director for his controversial
“Von Trier's remarks serve as another reminder of the seeming
comfort that anti-Semites feel expressing their prejudices in public
gatherings,” said European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor in a press
release. “We have seen too many examples of 'respectable Antisemitism' in Europe
during the last year and Von Trier's outburst is merely another example. There
must be consequences for these types of racist tirades, or it will just continue
The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their
Descendants said in a statement: "Holocaust survivors condemn Von Trier's
repulsive comments as an insensitive exploitation of victims' suffering for
self-serving promotion and publicity.
"We cannot give a review of his
film, but as a person Von Trier is a moral failure Meanwhile, Von Trier issued
an apology for his comments on Wednesday evening.
“If I have hurt someone
this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely
apologize,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying. "I am not anti-Semitic or
racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi."