Are people really shocked by Lars von Trier films still? The only shocking thing about the reaction to Antichrist at Cannes is the fact that people are shocked by this reaction.
Danish director Lars von Trier elicited derisive laughter, gasps of disbelief, a smattering of applause and loud boos on Sunday as the credits rolled on his drama "Antichrist" at the Cannes film festival.
Really? In other shocking news, the Earth revolves around the Sun. They booed Dancer in the Dark, too, and that went on to win the Palme D'or.
Jeers and laughter broke out during scenes ranging from a talking fox to graphically-portrayed sexual mutilation.
Many viewers in the large Debussy cinema also appeared to take objection to von Trier's decision to dedicate his film to the revered Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky. Applause from a handful of viewers was drowned out by booing at the end.
Antichrist opens with a heavily stylized, black-and-white, slow-motion portrayal of the child's accidental death set to soaring music by Handel.
The man makes films surrounding the destruction of humanity. It's what he does and he does it well. He killed a donkey for his last film and had Nicole Kidman's character raped by every man in town the film before that. Lars von Trier also knows how to integrate film music better than almost any other working director and I'm excited to see how he manipulates the audience with his use and evolution of Classical music throughout.
One U.S. critic said he and others found the film "offensive," and questioned why it was included in the main competition of 20 films in Cannes.
Can the film really be that "offensive?" I mean, Precious was met with a standing ovation and praised by critics for tackling some really disturbing material head on, including incestual rape and child abuse. Antichrist, a horror film...I think we found the issue. Heaven forbid a graphic horror film be in competition at such a prestigious festival.
If I have to guess, I'm sure the U.S. critic in question half-asses reviews of horror films by relying on summary and a predictable rant about how "offensive" the genre is. One act of violence probably results in a declaration of "torture porn" and another predictable rant on the degradation of society at the hands of fake blood. Destructive action films, however, are most likely "slick" and "impressive" in their annihilation of countless lives and entire cities via CGI.
I, for one, welcome the potential of a Lars von Trier horror film. Hopefully he can actually turn this controversy into profit and finance the delayed third film in his America trilogy (Dogville, Manderlay, and the unproduced Washington). Then, he can begin work on a new series of thought provoking films. Maybe he can even explore the challenge filmmaking idea presented in The Five Obstructions further.
Lars von Trier has yet to offend me, even when mocking the mentally handicapped or fighting with Bjork. Somehow I doubt his horror film will have me clutching for my pearls and fainting in the theater.
Then again, I am a sucker for an intelligent religious horror film. And I somehow doubt that von Trier made a stupid picture.