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Lars von Trier Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (11)  | Trivia (22)  | Personal Quotes (23)

Overview (3)

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark
Birth NameLars Trier
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Probably the most ambitious and visually distinctive filmmaker to emerge from Denmark since Carl Theodor Dreyer over 60 years earlier, Lars von Trier studied film at the Danish Film School and attracted international attention with his very first feature, The Element of Crime (1984). A highly distinctive blend of film noir and German Expressionism with stylistic nods to Dreyer, Andrei Tarkovsky and Orson Welles, its combination of yellow-tinted monochrome cinematography (pierced by shafts of blue light) and doom-haunted atmosphere made it an unforgettable visual experience. His subsequent features Epidemic (1987) and Europa (1991) have been equally ambitious both thematically and visually, though his international fame is most likely to be based on Riget (1994), a TV soap opera blending hospital drama, ghost story and Twin Peaks (1990)-style surrealism that was so successful in Denmark that it was released internationally as a 280-minute theatrical feature.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke < michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Lars von Trier (the "von" was adopted during his stay at the Danish Film School) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in April 1956. He graduated from the Danish Film School in 1983 with his short film Befrielsesbilleder (1982) ("Images of Relief"), which won the Best Film award at the Munich Film Festival the following year. He had his real breakthrough with the "Forbrydelsens element" (The Element of Crime (1984)), an expressionistic, yellow-tinted and post-modern film with a psychological theme, for which he won the Technical Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. "The Element of Crime" was follow by the fiasco Epidemic (1987) in 1987, but Lars von Trier made a comeback with his 1991 film _Europa_ (US title: "Zentropa"), which won him the Jury Prize as well as the Technical Grand Prize and Best Artistic Contribution at the Cannes Film Festival. Taking place in post-war Germany, Europa is a great example of the post-apocalyptic film, with a wired hypnotic architecture and a centralization on the human morale, responsibility, and love. However, Lars von Trier will probably be remembered for his later films. His Breaking the Waves (1996), for which he won the Jury Prize at Cannes, was the director's first film (in a trilogy) that centered on the female sex. "Breaking the Waves" is perhaps one of the worlds most emotional motion pictures, leaving not an eye dry when it ends, and the viewer realizes that love, indeed, is the greatest power. With Dancer in the Dark (2000), Lars von Trier made a melodrama about an east European woman who sacrifices everything, literally, to save her son from getting the same eye-illness she herself suffers from and thereby going blind. The film was one of the first motion pictures in the world to be filmed with entirely digital equipment. Icelandic singer-superstar Björk, who also made all the music, starred as Selma, the principal character. Dancer in the Dark won the 2000 Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. If not for his movies, Lars von Trier is going to be remembered for his TV mini-series "Riget" (Riget (1994)) from 1994; in which Lars von Trier blends his own cinematic style with a David Lynch-like surrealistic story about ghosts, god and satan. It was "The Kingdom" which made Lars von Trier a household name in Denmark. Together with producer Peter Ålbæk Jensen, Lars von Trier owns Zentropa Enterprizes, which produces Lars von Triers films, as well as many others.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Nikolaj Hawaleschka Stenberg <nstenberg@rocketmail.com>

Spouse (2)

Bente Frøge (1997 - present) ( 2 children)
Cæcilia Holbek Trier (? - 1996) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (11)

Hypnosis figures significantly in many of his films
Frequently casts Udo Kier
Fequently casts Jean-Marc Barr
Often casts Stellan Skarsgård.
Often casts Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Shoots digitally, encorporating imperfect hand-held camera movements that go in and out of focus.
The majority of his feature films have a female lead who experiences some form of transcendence after battling through harsh adversity.
Chaptering of his films, including the use of stylistic prologues and epilogues.
His films are often made as part of a trilogy (Golden Heart trilogy, USA trilogy, the Depression trilogy)
Uses various editing tricks
Philisophical and sometimes witty yet disturbing dialogue

Trivia (22)

In 1995, his dying mother told her son on her deathbed that the man he believed to be his father, in fact wasn't his biological father. Following her death, he tracked down his biological father, a 90-year-old German who after four combative meetings told him that, if he wanted to speak to him again, he could do it through his lawyer.
Broke up with his pregnant wife and moved in with their (much younger) babysitter. [1996]
Added 'von' to his name because his peers at the Danish Film School called him so.
Von Trier's mother, a civil service worker named Inger Høst, confessed shortly before her death that his real father was not Ulf Trier (another ministry worker) but rather her employer, Fritz Michael Hartmann; she explained she wanted a man with "artistic genes," and Hartmann, a member of an illustrious family of Danish composers including Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann and Niels Viggo Bentzon, seemed to fit the bill.
Nephew of filmmaker Børge Høst.
Helped form a collective known as Dogme 95 with a group of other filmmakers. The collective agreed to make films following certain rules, such as using only hand held cameras and shooting only on location.
The year von Trier won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, he almost did not attend the ceremony. He has so many phobias, he could only make the trip in a specially outfitted trailer.
Steven Spielberg offered him the chance to direct a film in America after he saw Europa (1991) but von Trier turned the script down.
He was awarded UNICEF's 'Cinema for Peace Award' at the 2004 Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival). He got the award because almost all of his films deal with subjects like mercy and ethics.
He was scheduled to direct the four operas of Wagner's Ring at the 2006 edition of the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, but withdrew from the project in 2004 and stated through the festival that he felt that it would exceed his powers and that he did not feel able to fulfil his own ambitions.
Has never visited the US.
Added the "von" to his birth name (Lars Trier) as an homage to director Josef von Sternberg.
Udo Kier is the godfather of his daughter Agnes.
Has said that one of his favourite films is The Philadelphia Story (1940).
Many famous directors and actors have shown their appreciation of von Trier's work. Quentin Tarantino mentions Von Trier's Dogville (2003) as his idea of the best manuscript ever written, Paul Thomas Anderson said he would "carry Lars von Trier's luggage anywhere", Martin Scorsese has Breaking the Waves (1996) listed on his top 10 films of the 90s and Johnny Depp recently said this in a Danish film magazine: "Tell von Trier I'm waiting for an offer, when he is ready, so am I".
He was declared 'persona non grata' at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival after controversial comments during the Melancholia (2011) press conference, which were ironic and intended as biographical jokes, but largely misunderstood by the press and public. In October 2011, five months after the festival, he declared that he would refrain from all future public statements and interviews as a result of the controversy.
He has directed three actresses to the Best Actress Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Björk for Dancer in the Dark (2000), Charlotte Gainsbourg for Antichrist (2009) and Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia (2011).
Directed one Oscar nominated performance: Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves (1996).
After speaking on a public appearance from Lars Von Trier at the University of Copenhagen, film and media studies, 22/11-06, he expressed interest in making a horror film. It is apparently under development. [November 2006]
He was due in 2007 to begin work on a horror movie, Antichrist, which postulates the Earth was created by Satan rather than God. However, it was reported in May 2007 that he was suffering from depression and might cease film-making altogether. [May 2007]
Shares birthday with Jane Campion and Jacques Audiard. The three directors/writers are all winners of the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Thirteen moving boxes' worth of material from Lars von Trier's life has been stored in a special collection at the Danish Film Institute library in 2017. Most of the material came from Trier's own basement. Some of it has also been used for an exhibition at Brandts in Odense, Denmark.

Personal Quotes (23)

A film should be like a rock in the shoe.
Basically, I'm afraid of everything in life, except filmmaking.
I don't think I tortured Nicole on Dogville (2003), but I know she said I was tough.
My films are about ideals that clash with the world. Every time it's a man in the lead, they have forgotten about the ideals. And everytime it's a woman in the lead, they take the ideals all the way.
If his creation is so great, why does God want us on our knees?
Put my American trilogy together and you'll have one hell of a grim evening. And you will not be entertained at all!
There are a lot of Americans I sympathise with very much, but not the Government right now, no. We just do not agree on politics, but that's not being Anti-American. I am critical about a country with a system that allows so many losers. I think that is wrong.
American studios give money to directors to educate them away from their creative fingerprint, even if that's the reason they wanted them in the first place. I've avoided that fate by making movies here. You have to fight the urge to do a big action movie. You avoid 'Batman.' The bigger it is, the worse it is.
Since I have said I am 60% American I can say there is one thing that kills any debate - an American disease called political correctness, which is a fear of talking ... What makes me a little bit sad is that there's an American TV show in which the president of the US is black. People say, 'Oh look, that's OK, there's a black president on TV.' That's completely humiliating because that's not how it is. There's no black president. Political correctness kills discussion.
A big part of our lives has to do with America. In our country it is overwhelming. I feel there could just as well be an American military presence in Denmark. We are a nation under a very bad influence, because I think Bush is an asshole and doing a lot of really stupid things. America is sitting on the world and therefore I am making films about it. I'd say 60% of the things I have experienced in my life are American, so in fact I am an American. But I can't go there and vote. That's why I am making films about America.
[on his mental state] I am at a place right now, where it's more messy than usual. ["Jeg er et sted ligenu hvor det roder mere end det plejer"]
[what the prizes he won mean to him] I am like all other people. I am pleased with prizes, but they don't make me happy. ["Jeg er vel ligesom alle andre mennesker. Jeg er glad for priser - Men de gør mig ikke lykkelig"]
Forget all the excuses, 'the childish fascination' and 'the all embracing humility', for this is my confession, black on white: I, Lars von Trier, am but a simple masturbator of the silver screen.
[at the press conference of Antichrist (2009)] I think it's a very strange question that I have to excuse myself [for writing and directing "Antichrist"]. I don't feel that. You are all my guests, it's not the other way around. [Cannes Film Festival, 2009]
I would say that I am a poor Christian, I'm not a believer. It was this idea very early in my life that life on earth, nature or man could not be a creation of a merciful God.
[at the press conference of Antichrist (2009)] I am the best film director in the world. [Cannes Film Festival, 2009]
I want to be surrounded by porn people who love me for what I am, who say, 'Where do you want the erection, where do you want the penetration?' Where it's not complicated.
[at the press conference of Melancholia (2011)] I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out I was really a Nazi, you know, because my family was German [his biological father], which also gave me some pleasure. Hitler did some wrong things, absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker at the end [referring to Downfall (2004)] He's not what you call a good guy, but I understand much about him and I sympathize with him. [Cannes Film Festival, 2011]
Everything is going to Hell, but we should smile all the way.
When you shoot a film, it's hard work, and you tend to drink more. ... I've taken other drugs that helped me a lot - that was kind of the way I worked. But drinking is more to overcome some anxiety.
[on the problems of being sober] Who the hell cares about The Rolling Stones when you don't have a sense that they've just emptied a bottle of Jack Daniels? That's nonsense. Or Jimi Hendrix without heroin or whatever he was on. That's rubbish; we can't be bothered with that. We don't want that, because we want their special approach through something mysterious, which is still somehow connected to various intoxicants, right? But when I work, I'll miss the intoxication, or rather, I may come to miss it. That's the point. I think it's really dreary to try to be sober. But I am. [2014]
[at a press conference for The House That Jack Built (2018)] I feel like shit. I have so much anxiety. I think I'm getting too old for this. Just to work on the set and rush around with some actors, even though they are very sweet, it is a challenge of dimensions. I don't think I can make any more films after this one. [March 2017]
[giving context to his controversial comments at the Cannes press conference of Melancholia (2011)] The real story, and that's where all the Nazi nonsense came from, was that Trier is a Jewish name, and a very big Jewish family. I added the von, maybe to get away from that, but that was first of all because it was forbidden for me to do it in the film school. You know if something is forbidden it's kind of attractive to me. But it was also Von Stroheim [Erich von Stroheim] and Von Sternberg [Josef von Sternberg], they added it also, because they came from Germany, and they said, 'how do we do it in Hollywood?' and of course we put a von in there, and they were suddenly noblemen, which was complete nonsense, they were not at all. And I like crooks somehow. I like the idea of that, so I put that in. But I took it very seriously that I was from a Jewish family. My family was, as I found out later, not considered to be a fine Jewish family because they didn't go to the synagogue, they were very much atheistic, and my father was very much against Israel, but he was very Jewish. But people can be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic, of course. This was very important to me. Then my mother died and on her deathbed she told me that my father was not my biological father, which is very common I believe, and probably has happened in royal houses anywhere where the name is important. And then I said this [at the press conference] in a stupid way because I was feeling good and relaxed. Then I have this stupid unprofessional thing that I need to entertain a little. This is the last one of these I'll do at Cannes. Because I get carried away. Then I say that I found out I was not a Jew but a Nazi, which meant I was on the other side of the fence. It was not nice to say, especially to the Germans. That's ridiculous and stupid. It was kind of the Danish way of being idiotic. And I regret that. I don't think I was really anti-Semitic, because that would be extremely stupid. All my four children have Jewish names, I take it very seriously. The real father, he was a German. That's why I said I was a Nazi. He was not a Nazi, he was a freedom fighter. Yes, I met him, he was an asshole. It was ridiculous, my mother said to me, 'You will like him so much, he is such a fantastic person.' Then I met a feminine man, he said, 'I was sure that your mother would protect herself.' He said to me, 'If you want to discuss more, it should be through my lawyer.' And he was 78. And I had imagined this kind of slow-motion thing. And he said, 'I have never accepted that child.' And he said that to me. It was completely awful, but that did not make him a Nazi, not at all, he was a freedom fighter, and very respectable in every way. I just didn't like him. But then I got some siblings, who I see. That's fine. The only thing that was funny in the story was that I was not Jewish, I was half-German. From there it went wrong. [Interview with Anne Thompson, 2011]

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