Lars Von Trier has become infamous over the years for his grueling treatment of his actors in service of getting the most emotionally authentic performances possible. On the one hand, you can’t dispute the results; time and again, the filmmaker has drawn career-best work out of his stars, particularly his actresses. And on the other hand, there’s this, from an article written in 2000:
“During the shooting of his latest film, the Palme d’Or-scooping, audience-dividing Dancer in the Dark, Von Trier and his star Bjork famously fell out. Von Trier accused her of eating her costume. She recently charged her director with being an ’emotional pornographer’.”
Von Trier’s shoots are known for their emotionally taxing nature, which stands to reason given the resulting films. If you’ve seen any of the director’s work, you’ve probably left feeling shaken, no longer planning on doing whatever it was that you intended to do for the rest of the night. If not, give Melancholia a watch as soon as you can, and get ready to feel real bad.
In recent years, the filmmaker has been quieter, in part due to a self-imposed “vow of silence” taken after his controversial Hitler comments at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Two years ago, he broke that silence once around the premiere of Nymphomaniac, and while it’s unclear if he’ll ever give another interview again, his next project, The House That Jack Built, is in development, one that originally started as a serialized TV production.
Instead, Von Trier will direct make it a standalone film, and has announced that Matt Dillon will star in the leading role. A serial killer story of a less conventional approach, The House That Jack Built will be told “…from the point of view of the murderer, Jack. It follows him over 12 years as he carries out a series of killings, each of which he believes is a work of art.” The film is slated to be released sometime in 2018.
It’s a suitably bleak premise for the filmmaker, and one that will surely lead to no shortage of grotesqueries. After all, when in doubt of Von Trier’s continued bonafides as one of global cinema’s foremost provocateurs, just remember: chaos reigns.