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Friday
Mar212014

Posterized: Lars von Trier

Denmark's most important and most self important troublemaker Lars von Trier is back with the two-part Nymphomaniac. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as the title character and recounts her lifelong sexcapades. Is there really 5 hours of story to tell? Or is it just hard to edit yourself when you're doing something vignette style? And how do we count this in his filmography anyway... as one or two films?

Is it really one film delivered at two separate chunks or two separate films? Not that Von Trier's filmography is easy to parse in the usual way, making posterized a bit more challenging. [more...]

We try to include all theatrical released feature films, excluding shorts, made for television entries, and documentaries but Lars is a special case even here. I didn't want to leave out The Five Obstructions, for example, because ask yourself: is it really a documentary or is it more of a playful scripted hybrid-genre conversation between filmmakers? And then there's the student film he made before his traditional features (if you can ever use that word with the Mad Dane)-- it was actually released theatrically. And then there's his famous miniseries The Kingdom... which I still haven't attacked I admit but which I've always heard is worth the time. And then there's Medea, his TV feature. He's done more work than just the 12 below.

So herewith the not exactly complete but also complete 12 wide filmography to date in poster form. How many have you seen? 

LARS VON TRIER'S 12 FEATURES
or thirteen if you'd like to count Nymphomaniac as two

The Europa Trilogy
Element of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987), Europa (1991) 

The Golden Heart Trilogy
Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), Dancer in the Dark (2000) 

The USA Trilogy (Not Completed) Dogville (2004), Manderlay (2005)
... and The Boss of it All () 

The Depression Trilogy
Antichrist (2009), Melancholia (2011), Nymphomaniac Pt 1 & Pt 2 (2014)

And, since this is a movie poster series in which we actually don't talk that much about the posters themselves, can we stop for a moment to appreciate how significantly brilliant the promotion has been on Nymphomaniac from the "O" face character posters through to this two-part brilliant minimalist design.

BRILLIANT, I say.

How many of his pictures have you seen and which are your favorites? I love the entire Golden Heart Trilogy and think The Idiots remains the best among the lesser known titles. I also wish he'd do a whole trilogy of his Five Obstructions thing because that was such mischievous fun. Melancholia was, of course, a true return to form but I'm hoping he shifts stylistic gears again after this as he is prone to do every three or so films.

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Reader Comments (21)

I haven't seen Element of Crime, Europa or The Boss of it All. I've loved all the others except Manderlay.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I haven't seen them all but I really thought dogville was awesome.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

One of the great artists of our time.

Masterpieces:
- Dogville
- Dancer in the Dark

Near-masterpieces:
- Breaking the Waves
- Melancholia

Minor classic:
- The Boss of It All (horribly underrated, superbly mounted slapstick)

Excellent:
- The Idiots

It just didn't resonate:
- The Five Obstructions

Let's not talk about:
- Antichrist (though I admire the guts and Gainsbourg's searing, fearless, phenomenally detailed perfomance)

I'll be first in line when it opens here on Friday (I've actually already booked the tickets):
- Nymphomaniac

I hope to see the rest soon

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I know there's no place in it here but my favorite thing of his (give or take Meloncholia, which is def. my favorite movie of his) is The Kingdom - the world should really be divided into Before We Saw A Udo Kier's Head Birthed From A Woman and After. My world is, at least.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJA

I think Von Trier rides the coattails of his leading ladies. Watson, Bjork, Deneuve, Kidman, Dunst, and Gainsbourg (to a lesser extent) have really turned it out for him. Without them, he's nothing. Riding coattails!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

Lars is one of the few genuine giants in terms of personality, ambition, and accomplishments, and he's one of my favorite directors, but I've only seen six of the films listed here. Oops! Breaking the Waves and Dogville, or maybe Dancer in the Dark, are his masterpieces, but my favorite is Melancholia. I think I've mentioned it before on this blog, but seeing it in 2011 at the New York Film Festival, especially that knock out ending, was one of the most exhilarating, overwhelming experiences I've ever had in a movie theater.

I'm very excited about Nymphomaniac, but I'm waiting until next month so I can see both parts together.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Dogville and Breaking the Waves are his masterpieces in my book.

Dancer in the Dark comes close. I don't care for Antichrist or Melancholia (though I love aspects of each). Nymphomaniac is easily the best of his current "trilogy" and will probably only go up in my estimation once I revisit it.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

I've seen nine of them, plus both parts of The Kingdom, and would rank them thusly:

Cream of the crop
1. Melancholia
2. Dogville
3. The Kingdom, Part I

Very good/nearly great
4. Breaking the Waves
5. Antichrist
6. Dancer in the Dark

Good
7. Nymphomaniac
8. Manderlay
9. The Kingdom, Part II

Decent
10. The Idiots

No thanks
11. The Boss of It All

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMikadzuki

Happy to say that I've seen all of these, and I can't say I disliked any of them. I'm not a huge fan of Epidemic, Manderlay or The Boss of It All, but I still found things to enjoy in them. Everything else is absolutely wonderful. The Element of Crime is so stylish and atmospheric, Europa absolutely extraordinary ... Dancer in the Dark and Dogville remain two of my absolute favourite films. The Five Obstructions is one of the best films about the creative process ever made. The Kingdom is incredible television.

I didn't love Nymphomaniac as much as I loved Antichrist and Melancholia, but it still had a lot going for it, particularly the greatness that is UMA THURMAN.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I've seen 8 considering Nymphomaniac as one movie. Favorites? It's a tie between Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I just watched Breaking the Waves this week, my first time in over 10 years, and damn, if that isn't a perfect, perfect movie.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Those Nymphomaniac posters are genius. GEE-NEE-US.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I've seen Breaking The Waves, Dancer In The Dark, Dogville, and Melancholia. My favorite is Dancer In The Dark, but I thought Breaking The Waves and Dogville were also amazing. Dogville is probably the one that had the most impact on me. I thought Melancholia was good, with great performances by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

"I think Von Trier rides the coattails of his leading ladies. Watson, Bjork, Deneuve, Kidman, Dunst, and Gainsbourg (to a lesser extent) have really turned it out for him. Without them, he's nothing. Riding coattails!"

I think that's a pretty silly (and naive) thing to say. It's a two-way street. You could say he'd be nothing without them, and yes they all gave spectacular performances, but at the same time, who gave them those roles? Who created fascinating, complex roles for women? Lars did. So without him, they're nothing as well. No coattail riding here.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

8, ranging from astonishing masterpieces (Breaking the Waves, Dogville) to loathesome wastes of time (Melancholia, Dancer in the Dark).

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

@Philip H. We can agree to disagree. At least I won't resort to name calling.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

CharlieG - lol, I didn't call you naive, just saying it seemed like a naive thing to say :P I'll just stick to silly next time. My bad.

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I've been hating him since Manderlay, but I cannot forget I've lved him very deeply before that. We're just like estranged lovers that had a very violent break-up and now can't even look at each other's face. (Of course this is one-sided, lol)

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

The only two I haven't seen are Element of Crime and Epidemic. I very much enjoy The Boss Of It All, although it is very much an outlier in his career. I think he's maybe my favourite or second favourite working director of today. Such a great director and I can't wait to finish Nymphomaniac with Part 2 next week.

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I think that (controversially?) my favourite is possibly Manderlay.

That film asked a lot of very uncomfortable questions that are rarely discussed, but probably should be.

Plus it has Danny Glover being amazing, Mona Hammond being heartbreaking, Isaach De Bankole being sexy and Bryce Dallas Howard giving her best performance to date. And Lauren Bacall!

I prefer it to Dogville...

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

Man, Dancer in the Dark gets me every time. And Dogville was devastating. Can't wait to see Nymphomaniac.

March 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbbats

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