Lars from Trier

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Lars von Trier at the Berlinale 2014

Lars von Trier (bourgeois Lars Trier ; born April 30, 1956 in Copenhagen ) is a Danish film director and screenwriter . Among other things, he is the winner of the Golden Palm of Cannes.


Lars von Trier was born as the second son of Inger Høst (1915–1989) and the Danish Jew Ulf Trier (1907–1978). Ulf Trier's ancestors Salomon and Ethel Trier immigrated to Denmark from Trier in the 18th century . Inger Høst and Ulf Trier met during the German occupation of Denmark in the Danish resistance movement, where they helped Jews flee across the Øresund to safe Sweden. According to von Trier's statements, his parents were communists , belonged to a community of nudists and raised him to be anti-authoritarian .

It was only at the age of 33 that Trier learned that Ulf Trier was not his biological father and that he was therefore not of Jewish descent. Shortly before her death, von Trier's mother confessed to her son that his biological father was her former supervisor at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Fritz Michael Hartmann. The Hartmann family, of German descent, has lived in Denmark with Johann Ernst Hartmann since 1762. It has produced several important Danish musicians, such as the composer Johann Peter Emilius Hartmann . By his own account, von Trier was deeply disappointed that he had no Jewish roots. He felt comfortable in the role of an outsider who came from a group of persecuted people. In the synagogue he always felt more a part of him than in Protestant or Catholic churches.

A maternal uncle was Børge Høst, a film director who must have piqued his interest in filmmaking. As a primary school pupil, he made small animated films with a camera in Super 8 format , and later made short films with his friends. His first documented animated film from around 1967 was called Turen til Squashland (The Journey into Zucchini Land ) and lasted one minute.

Von Trier suffered from depression and phobias in his childhood and was unable to attend school for a while. He received psychiatric care. At the age of twelve he attended a day healing center. Nevertheless, in 1969 he played one of the two main roles in the Danish-Swedish children's television series Hemmelig sommer .

In his first marriage, von Trier was married to the Danish director, screenwriter and actress Cæcilia Holbek Trier until 1996 , who like him studied at the Danish film school. During the second pregnancy of Cæcilia Holbek Trier, he fell in love with the married Bente Frøge, a teacher who looked after his daughter in the day care center. Three weeks after the birth of his second daughter, he officially left his wife to be with Bente Frøge. This behavior led to a huge media coverage in Denmark. Bente and Lars von Trier married after they both divorced in 1997. After a few years, Bente Trier gave birth to twin sons. The marriage lasted until 2015. Lars von Trier is divorced for the second time.

Von Trier's psychological problems led to alcoholism and pill addiction. In an interview with the daily Politiken , the director stated that he was particularly productive when he was intoxicated and at the same time expressed his concern that he would no longer be able to make films without drugs.

The filmmaker

After graduating from high school, von Trier began studying film at the University of Copenhagen in 1976 , where he mainly got to know people who helped him to make his films. From 1979 to 1982 he graduated from the Danish Film School specializing in directing . In 1981 Lars von Trier won first prize at the International Festival of Munich Film Schools with his short film Nocturne .

His 55-minute thesis as a director at the Danish Film School Befrielsesbilleder / Images of Liberation from 1982 won the Channel Four Prize at the Munich International Film Schools Festival . The film was collaged from three different materials: firstly, a "plot part" shot in color, and secondly, existing documentary material in black and white from the time of National Socialism , such as the demonstration drive of the " Wessel murderer" in the car or film clips about the arrest of collaborators of National Socialist Germany in Denmark, and thirdly, various film clips in 1950s colors of a bird chirping on the top of a tree. Little is spoken in German, Danish or English in the film. Images of the liberation do not show happy people, as the title might suggest, but German soldiers, collaborators and Danish women who were with the German occupiers as losers and victims.

Many of the cinematic ideas, such as B. the interruption of the course of action, underlaying the film with chorals or the combination of SS uniforms, water and fire, reappear in his later films.

In addition to his feature films, Lars von Trier also shot commercials and music videos. In 1983 he shot together with Vladimir Oravsky for the Danish pop duo Laid Back Elevator Boy and in 1990 the spectacular Bakerman video, which filmed the musicians making music in free fall during a parachute jump.

In 2005 Lars von Trier co-wrote an episode of the Danish comedy series Klovn . The corresponding episode called It's a Jungle Down There can be downloaded free of charge from the website of the American film distributor drafthouse films. When Christian Ulmen adapted the Danish series to Germany with jerks in 2017 , von Trier's episode of the second episode Camilla served as a direct model.

Films of the E-Trilogy

In 1984 his first feature-length film, the crime thriller The Element of Crime , was released.

In The Element of Crime , the fascination for fascist symbols is given even more space than in the previous film. The Element of Crime is the first part of a European trilogy that deals with the history of Europe in the 20th century, remnants of archaic forms of society and the decline of Europe. The Element of Crime won the Prix ​​Vulcain de l'artiste technicien at the Cannes International Film Festival and marked the national and international breakthrough for von Trier. The other parts of the trilogy were Epidemic in 1987 , which was also a competition film in Cannes, and Europa (1991), which was also awarded the Prix Vulcain de l'artiste technicien there and received a special prize from the jury and the prize for the best artistic contribution .

TV production Medea

In 1988 Lars von Trier filmed the Greek tragedy Medea based on Euripides for Danmarks Radio . The already existing script by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Preben Thomsen was the basis of his self-written script .

Dimension 1991-2024

In 1991 von Trier and Niels Vørsel started the film project Dimensions, the long-term film adaptation of a police intrigue, which was supposed to be limited to three minutes of shooting per year and which was filmed at various locations in Europe (including with the actor Udo Kier ) Should be completed in 2024. The film was shot without a script and in English. The actor Eddie Constantine died in 1993. According to the newspaper Die Welt , von Trier has since given up on the project because he was busy with other projects and the successor he chose for the director, Katrin Cartlidge, has died in the meantime. There is a 27-minute version of the project that was canceled in 2010.

TV series Riget

The 1994 TV series Hospital der Geister / Geister / Riget / The Kingdom is set in the second largest Danish hospital, Rigshospitalet . Lars von Trier was inspired by Twin Peaks . Lars von Trier and Niels Vørsel wrote the script very quickly and with as much fun as possible. The series was a huge hit in Denmark as it was both extremely funny and very exciting, and it got more and more scary from episode to episode. The second season followed in 1997. An actually planned sequel no longer seems possible because two actors (roles: Ms. Drusse, Dr. Helmer) have died and Lars von Trier and Niels Vørsel no longer work together.

Golden Heart Trilogy

The "Golden Heart" trilogy begins with Breaking the Waves from 1996. The until then unknown leading actress Emily Watson took over the role of the young Bess McNeill, who, delusional to save her great love (played by Stellan Skarsgård ), developed from an accepted member of the community to a village prostitute. The internationally known Danish artist Per Kirkeby designed the chapter images that structure the film. These are landscape shots that can be seen for minutes and change minimally in the process.

In 1998 Lars von Trier took part in the second dogma film Die Idioten / Idioterne at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was very provocative with its theme of “playing astray”, the first pornographic images in a feature film and the very restless and shaky camera work.

For the technically complex musical Dancer in the Dark , in which individual dance scenes were filmed simultaneously with countless cameras, von Trier received the Palme d'Or in Cannes in 2000 . Björk not only wrote the entire score, but also played the main character Selma. Similar to Breaking the Waves , a woman sacrifices her life for love. In this film not about a husband, but about the beloved son threatened with hereditary disease.

Dancer in the Dark can be counted in both the Golden Heart and the USA trilogy.

USA trilogy

With Dogville , von Trier began his cinematic USA trilogy, which has met with reservations from some critics because the director himself never went there because of his fear of flying. Von Trier commented on the accusation, alluding to the film Casablanca , stating that the Americans had not been to Morocco either . Above all, the critics were bothered by the one-sided representation of the village community in Dogville.

With the film Manderlay from 2005 he continued the story that began with Dogville . The main character Grace is no longer cast with Nicole Kidman , but with Bryce Dallas Howard .

Both films work with Brecht's theater, in which it is always made clear that one is only seeing a "show game". Emotional distance is desired and is generated in a targeted manner. It was filmed in halls painted black, in which only the most necessary props were kept. In Dogville , the imaginary houses were only identified by white lines on the hall floor as an additional alienation effect.


In 2008 von Trier shot the horror thriller Antichrist in North Rhine-Westphalia with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe in the leading roles. The film received an invitation to the competition at the 62nd Cannes International Film Festival in 2009 and brought von Trier a nomination for the European Film Prize and the Danish Robert in the categories of director and screenplay . It won the Nordic Film Prize in 2009. The highly controversial film cemented von Trier's reputation as a scandal film director.


In the summer of 2010, von Trier shot the feature film Melancholia with international cast in Sweden. The film arose from the unrealized project of filming Jean Genet's play Die Maiden with Penélope Cruz .

Its structure corresponds to an opera, i. that is, it consists of an overture, two acts and a finale. The overture consists of various still images without sound or action, which move minimally. This introduction lasts eight minutes and is a further development of the chapter pictures in Breaking the Waves . The film music comes from Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde .

Melancholia , which was completed in 2011, brought von Trier its ninth invitation to the competition at the Cannes International Film Festival .


Nymphomaniac was releasedin German cinemason February 20, 2014 as Nymphomaniac Volume I. The long version of the film was shown at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival in 2014 . The film was preceded by a multi-year advertising campaign.

The group of films Antichrist , Melancholia, and Nymphomaniac is often referred to as the Depression Trilogy .

The House That Jack Built

From the beginning of 2017, Lars von Trier shot a thriller about a serial killer in the USA in the 1970s. The cast includes Matt Dillon , Uma Thurman and Bruno Ganz . The film was shot in English again. The film was released in theaters in late 2018. The House That Jack Built celebrated its world premiere at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival, where it ran out of competition.

other projects

The world clock in Copenhagen (Psykomobile # 1 Verdensuret)

In 1996 Copenhagen was the European Capital of Culture . Lars von Trier participated with a theater controlled in real time by ants in New Mexico, held at the Copenhagen Art Association. The production, which lasted over eight weeks, was directed by Morten Arnfred. The whole thing was documented by Jesper Jargil in the film De Udstillede (The Exhibited).

The ring in Bayreuth

Von Trier announced in 2004 that, despite two years of preparation, he would not be able to stage the Ring of the Nibelung as planned for the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth in 2006 , as the four-part opera cycle of around 16 hours had been staged Playing time would exceed his powers.

Lars von Trier and the media

Lars von Trier and his production company Zentropa

In 1992 von Trier founded the film production company Zentropa together with producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen , which is today the most successful and largest production facility for film (TV and cinema) in Denmark. Zentropa was awarded the Douglas Sirk Prize . Lars von Trier receives a fixed salary and says he is not in management. However, with his commercially successful films and his high media presence, he makes a significant contribution to the fact that the films of others can be financed. The name Zentropa comes from his film Europe - that's the name of the railway company in the film. The subsidiary Zentropas, Innocent Pictures, which produced "women-friendly" porn, no longer exists.

The Dogma Manifesto (Dogme95)

Lars von Trier achieved a media coup with his Dogma 95 manifesto. On March 20, 1995, the 100th birthday of the film, Lars von Trier threw a pile of leaflets with the manifesto in front of the assembled press crowd in the Odeon Theater in Paris. In 2008, the dogma movement around von Trier, Vinterberg , Levring and Kragh-Jacobsen was honored with the European Film Prize in the category Best European Performance in World Cinema .

Pornographic and violent depictions as well as provocation with the topic complex National Socialists - Jews

Lars von Trier is considered the " enfant terrible " of the film industry. His dogma film Idioten / Idioterne (1998) already caused an international scandal with a combination of explicit sexual representations and the provocative “madness” of the characters. His work Antichrist was also discussed controversially due to its explicit and extremely violent depiction. The world called it the "most hated film" of the year. Von Trier stated that he had suffered from depression for a long time and that he processed some of it in his films. In Cannes, he had repeatedly provoked with pornographic or violent scenes in his films or controversial statements. In an interview with Die Zeit , he said among other things: “My family had very precise ideas about good and bad, kitsch and good art. With my work, I question all of that. I not only provoke others, I constantly declare war on myself, my upbringing, my values, and myself. And I'm attacking the do - gooders philosophy that prevailed in my family. "

The bought Jew in "Europe"

In his film Europa Lars plays von Trier, the role of the Jews purchased, which is hired by an American colonel, to the owner of the railway company a Zentropa called Hartmann clean bill of health issue, so to him with false statements about his crimes "whitewash". Hartmann kills himself in the bathtub despite the purchased denazification .

Lars von Trier's biological father was also called Hartmann and was of German descent; his legal and social father had Jewish ancestors.

Scandal at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival

In May 2011 von Trier was excluded from the 64th Cannes International Film Festival . At the press conference for his film Melancholia , von Trier had previously caused a scandal with statements that, among other things, ironically expressed alleged sympathy and understanding for Adolf Hitler . A little later von Trier apologized for his “wrong” and “stupid” remarks. The incident met with international media coverage and led to the cancellation of the film Melancholia by Israeli and Argentine film distributors. At the beginning of October 2011, von Trier was first questioned by the Danish police because of his controversial statements. According to his own statements, he was threatened with charges of playing down war crimes . In early December 2011, however, the charges against von Trier were dropped. The public prosecutor said that behind von Trier's statements no intentions to play down war crimes were to be suspected, his statements were primarily due to the stressful situation in the interview.

After the catastrophic outcome of the Cannes press conference, von Trier enacted more than three years of public silence, which he broke with a major interview with the daily Politiken at the end of 2014.

Cannes International Film Festival 2018

In May 2018, Trier was allowed to participate in the Cannes Film Festival for the first time in seven years, after the organizers declared it persona non grata in 2011 . In this recent participation, he presented his work The House That Jack Built outside of the competition. Several viewers left the screening on May 15, 2018. The film shows “extreme violence”, such as the murder of children and the cutting off of a woman's breasts.

Filmography (selection)

Script and direction:

Script only:

  • 2005: Dear Wendy
  • 2007: De unge år: Erik Nietzsche sagaen del 1 / The early years: Erik Nietzsche Part 1


  • 1999–2000: Morten Korch - Ved stillebækken (TV)


  • 1969: Hemmelig sommer (TV)
  • 1987: Epidemic (doctor and himself)
  • 1991: Europe (The Bought Jew)

Awards (selection)


  • Stig Björkman, Lars von Trier: Trier over from Trier. Conversations with Stig Björkman. Rogner & Bernhard at two thousand and one, Frankfurt a. M. 2001, ISBN 3-8077-0161-3 .
  • Antje Flemming: Lars von Trier. Golden hearts, battered bodies. Bertz + Fischer, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86505-310-7 .
  • Achim Forst: Breaking the Dreams. Lars von Trier's cinema. Schüren, Marburg 1998, ISBN 3-89472-309-2 .
  • Jana Hallberg, Alexander Wewerka: Dogma 95. Between control and chaos. Alexander Verlag, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89581-047-9 .
  • Björn Hayer : Lars von Trier's Antichrist . An analysis. Diplomoca, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-8428-7294-3 .
  • Andreasjacket : Crisis reception or anything you always wanted to know about Lars von Trier, but didn't dare ask Jacques Derrida so far. Verlag Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-8260-5537-9 .
  • Lothar van Laak: Media and mediality of the epic in literature and film of the 20th century: Bertolt Brecht - Uwe Johnson - Lars von Trier. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-7705-4811-8 .
  • Charles Martig : Cinema of Irritation. Lars von Trier's theological and aesthetic challenge. Schüren, Marburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-89472-532-7 .
  • Marion Müller : Picture puzzles. The film worlds of Lars von Trier. Gardez! Verlag, St. Augustin 2002, ISBN 3-89796-070-2 .
  • Peter Priskil : Lars von Trier's Antichrist - Some observations and reflections . In: System ubw , Heft 1, Volume 27, Freiburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-89484-713-5 .
  • Georg Seeßlen : Lars von Trier goes Porno: (not only) about NYMPHOMANIAC , Bertz + Fischer, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86505-726-6 .
  • Leonard Stühl: Art in the horror genre: excesses of violence and pornography in Lars von Trier's Antichrist . Diplomica, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-95549-099-7 .
  • Leonard Stühl: Aesthetics of the Pornographic in Contemporary Film. A comparative study on Steve McQueen's Shame (2011) and Lars von Trier's Nymph () maniac (2013). Diplomica, Hamburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-95934-972-7 .
  • Georg Tiefenbach : drama and direction. Lars von Triers Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8260-4096-2 .


  • Peter Schepelern: Lars von Triers film: tvang og befrielse. (Lars von Trier's films: Coercion and Liberation) Rosinante, 2000, ISBN 87-621-0164-1 .
  • Nils Thorsen: Geniet - Lars von Triers liv, film and fobier. (The genius - Lars von Trier's life, films and phobias) Politiken , 2010, ISBN 978-87-567-9511-1 .

Web links

Commons : Lars von Trier  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. a b I am an American woman. In: Die Zeit , No. 46/2005; Interview with Lars Trier
  3. Lars von Trier in the Munzinger Archive , accessed on May 19, 2011 ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  4. ^ Jan Lumholdt: Lars von Trier: interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2003, pp. 184f.
  5. ^ A b Peter Schepelern: Lars von Triers film. Rosinante Verlag, Copenhagen 2000.
  6. A Dane and his demon . In: Der Tagesspiegel , September 8, 2009
  7. a b Geniet - Lars von Triers liv, film og fobier , 2010.
  9. Det Danske Film Institute ; Retrieved July 5, 2017
  10. ^ Film School Fest Munich, Wall Of Fame
  12. It's a Jungle Down There
  13. Klown | Drafthouse Films. Archived from the original on March 28, 2017 ; Retrieved March 19, 2017 (American English).
  14. Marian Rottke: From "Klovn" to "Jerks" - a remake rarely comes alone. (No longer available online.) March 13, 2017, archived from the original on March 20, 2017 ; Retrieved March 19, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. (hgr): Lars von Trier gives up long-term project . In: Die Welt , November 28, 2005.
  16. Filmmuseum München, issue 22, p. 73, 2012.
  17. Lars von Trier: Turns Antichrist in Germany ( Memento from February 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) from April 14, 2008 on
  18. Filmmuseum München, issue 22, p. 68, Gerhard Midding, 2012.
  19. Filmmuseum München, issue 22, p. 68, Gerhard Midding, 2012.
  20. Competition, out of competition, Nymphomaniac Volume I (Long Version) In: Berlinale Catalog 2014, p. 37
  21. The House That Jack Built
  22. ^ After the "Nazi scandal" - Lars von Trier is allowed to return to Cannes . In: . April 19, 2018 ( [accessed April 19, 2018]).
  24. European Film Prize for Judi Dench ., September 11, 2008.
  25. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 259-266 .
  26. "Okay, I'm a Nazi" . In: Frankfurter Rundschau , May 18, 2011.
  27. Quoted from: Stefan Volk: Scandalfilme. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 271 .
  28. Cannes declares Lars von Trier a persona non grata . Zeit Online , May 19, 2011.
  29. Interview. Spiegel-Online , May 20, 2011
  30. Udo Kier breaks a lance for Lars von Trier . In: Hamburger Abendblatt , May 20, 2011
  31. ↑ The police question Lars von Trier because of statements made by Hitler . Spiegel Online , October 5, 2011.
  32. ↑ The charges against Lars von Trier dropped . The Hollywood Reporter , December 6, 2011.
  34. Lars von Trier returns to Cannes after the "Hitler scandal". Retrieved April 20, 2018 .
  35. Cannes: Audiences leave the room at Lars-von-Trier-Film , May 18, 2018, accessed May 18, 2018.