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Director Lars von Trier came under fire earlier this year when he made remarks sympathizing with Adolf Hitler during a Melancholia press conference at the Cannes Film Festival. Von Trier apologized shortly after he made the statements, but was eventually banned from the festival.
The director is now taking back his apology, by saying he was “not sorry” about the statements after all.
The Danish director believes there is no such thing as the “right or wrong thing to say.” “I think that anything can be said. That is very much me. The same with film — anything can be done in a film. If it can be thought in the human mind, then it could be said and it could be seen on a film,” he told GQ. “Of course you get troubles for it afterwards, that’s for sure, but that doesn’t make it wrong. To say I’m sorry for what I said is to say I’m sorry for what kind of a person I am, I’m sorry for my morals and that would destroy me as a person.”
He continued, “It’s not true. I’m not sorry. I am not sorry for what I said. I’m sorry that it didn’t come out more clearly. I’m not sorry that I made a joke, but I’m sorry that I didn’t make it clear that it was a joke. But I can’t be sorry for what I said — it’s against my nature.”
Von Trier noted in the GQ interview that there was one exception to the rule. “I’m sorry when I was a child I had a little bird that I fed, and I was so young I forgot it when I was on holiday, and then it was dead when I came home. That I was sorry for,” he said.
In May, von Trier admitted to being a Naxi and understanding Hitler. “For a long time I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew,” he began, “then I met (Danish and Jewish director) Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler…I sympathize with him a bit.” He also said, “Now how can I get out of this sentence? Ok. I’m a Nazi.”
The festival officially declared von Trier a persona non grata after the director made those remarks. He apologized for the remarks, claiming that he was provoked by journalists.
Von Trier issued a statement following his ban and in response to a letter that was written to the film festival saying that Cannes “had smirched its history by expelling the director.” Von Trier said, “In my opinion, freedom of speech, in all its shapes, is part of the basic human rights. However, my comments during the festival’s press conference were unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful.”
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