Film & tv

Sober von Trier fears he's finished

After three years of silence, Lars von Trier has finally decided to go back on record to say that almost all of his films have been written on a high of alcohol and drugs. Now sober, the director doubts that he can create anything of value.

Lars von Trier’s films have been created in a state of intoxication. While writing his manuscripts he has put himself in a special state by drinking a bottle of vodka a day and taking ‘a drug’, he says, saying that this has been his way of entering a ‘parallel world’ – a special state in which ideas develop.

Now that he’s sober, Lars von Trier’s afraid that he has run dry as an artist and can only make ‘shitty films’.

“I don’t know if I can make more films, and that worries me,” the director says in his first interview since he muzzled himself following the controversy following the scandalous press meeting in Cannes in 2011, in which he said he understood Adolf Hitler.

Man vs. The Director

He is in a state in which he is choosing between Lars Trier the man and Lars von Trier the director – and, as he says, ‘Lars Trier has prime place’ right now. Now, it’s just a question of staying alive by avoiding intoxicants. As a result he doesn’t believe that he is able to continue to maintain the artistic level that he demands of his films.

Or, as he says: “There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug addicts.”

Obviously, the parallel world has its price, but I got an enormous amount out of it. Just like all the artists I have respected the most

Lars Von Trier

The manuscript for his ‘Dogville’ film was written during a 12-day high. His latest film ‘Nymphomaniac’ is the only one that has been written while sober – and it took him 18 months.

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Sober for 90 days

But sunday Trier has been sober for 90 days, and has been to his Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every day. And although he doesn’t recommend alcohol or drugs to anyone, he does not regret having used them in his creative process.

“Obviously, the parallel world has its price, but I got an enormous amount out of it. Just like all the artists I have respected the most. They have also wallowed in all sorts of mind-expanding drugs,” von Trier says. While he says that his long silence has been a relief, he now feels the need to speak out in various fora.

“I have reached an age,” he says, “at which one would like to hand something on.”

As far as his film Nymphomaniac is concerned, von Trier has not previously said anything about it in public. He now says that the five-and-a-half hour, highly erotic film was not meant to be a study in female sexuality, but rather a tease for Zentropa Director Peter Aalbæk, and a wish to make a film with a lot of digressions into the things in life that he loves most.

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