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The details of Lars von Trier’s upcoming two-part sex epic Nymphomaniac are being tightly guarded, with producers Zentropa and sales agent TrustNordisk engaging in a teasing slow reveal with fans and the media.
So far, Zentropa has put out just three photos of the film — two stills and a porn-inspired cast photo — along with the official poster showing an erotically charged design evocative of female genitalia.
But a few details of the hotly anticipated project have slipped out. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in Cannes, Nymphomaniac producer Louise Vesth provided a sneak peek into what we can expect. Vesth confirmed that the doubled-barreled feature will include graphic sex scenes between the members of the all-star cast, including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf and Uma Thurman.
For the truly hard-core elements of the film, von Trier used body doubles for the stars. But, Vesth revealed, the Danish director will use digital technology to combine the actors’ non-explicit displays with the pornographic performance of the doubles.
“We shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles, who really did have sex, and in post we will digital-impose the two,” Vesth explained. “So above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles.”
The extensive post-production work required to create such match-ups is one reason why von Trier’s film wasn’t ready for Cannes. Last week, the producers announced that the film would not do the festival circuit at all, bypassing Venice and Toronto to instead go out first in Denmark, with distributor Nordisk Film holding a red carpet gala premiere in Copenhagen ahead of a local release on Dec. 25.
Vesth didn’t rule out that the film could be ready before then but suggested it was unlikely. “The film is in two parts but it is really one film, so [von Trier] has to finish both parts first,” she said.
At the Berlin market in February, Trust screened five minutes of images from the first part of Nymphomaniac for international distributors who pre-bought the picture, and some in the Danish industry have seen more extensive footage. Buyers speaking to THR would give only vague descriptions of the film’s imagery, saying Trust made them sign confidentiality agreements to not reveal too much.
Vesth was a bit more forthcoming, confirming that von Trier will use experimental graphical elements in the two Nymphomaniac films, using double exposures and imposing words and symbols over the action as part of his storytelling. One buyer who screened early footage of the first film called the technique “groundbreaking…like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
But sex and style are apparently only a small part of Nymphomaniac.
“Lars has thrown everything in this one. It’s about religion, about God, about philosophy,” said Vesth, adding that she hopes von Trier ends his self-imposed ban on talking publicly, which followed his controversial Nazi comments in Cannes two years ago. “There’s so much to talk about with this movie. I hope he changes his mind and starts giving interviews again.”
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