Cannes: Lars Von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac' Releases First Cast Photo With Shirtless Shia LaBeouf

1:33 AM PST 05/16/2013 by Scott Roxborough

UPDATED: The porn-inspired tableau for the controversial film -- which will hit theaters in December -- also features Christian Slater posing in front of Charlotte Gainsbourg with legs akimbo.

CANNES -- As part of Lars von Trier's slow reveal for his upcoming epic Nymphomaniac, production company Zentropa today unveiled the first cast photo for the film as well as its release date: December 25.

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The image, which went up online early Thursday morning, is a porn-inspired tableau featuring the all-star cast in various compromising positions. Highlights include star Charlotte Gainsbourg, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac of the film's title, sitting on a chair with legs akimbo as an intense Christian Slater kneels before her. The shot also features a shirtless Shia LaBeouf and Willem Dafoe with a compromising trouser stain. In the center of the picture stands Uma Thurman in a domina pose with her leg astride a table underneath which Udo Kier lies, looking up with apparent fear and awe.

In addition to evoking scenes from porno films, the image has the visual style of a religious painting from the High Renaissance. Von Trier has said repeatedly that religion is a key theme in the film, particularly the difference between the sexually repressive Catholic church and the more sensual Eastern Orthodox tradition.

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In the background stands director von Trier with a digital camera and a gag of duct tape across his mouth -- a cheeky reference to his controversial Nazi comments in Cannes two years ago that provoked the festival to brand the Danish auteur a persona non grata.

The Cannes festival has since backtracked on its pronouncement, with festival director Thierry Fremaux claiming the ban was only for one year and that von Trier and his films would be welcomed back to Cannes in future. 

Cannes apparently would not have been an option for Nymphomaniac in any case as the first part of the film -- it is planned as two full-length features -- is still in post-production. Many had thought the feature will instead premiere at the Venice or Toronto film festivals, but Zentropa said that instead, it has chosen to bow the movie first in Denmark. Local distributor Nordisk Film will hold a red carpet gala for the world premiere in Copenhagen in December ahead of a local release on December 25.

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"Seeing the film’s visual effects will be a significant part of the storytelling. We're facing a huge post-production phase and currently Lars has just begun editing part two," said Zentropa CEO Peter Aalbæk Jensen. "So December is a good month. Besides, what's more Christmas-y than a film like this?"

Following its Danish release, Nymphomaniac will roll out around the world, including in the U.S. through Magnolia Pictures.

See the new image above.

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