Greatest or grating?

'Antichrist' director defends his film and style

Declaring himself "the world's greatest director," Lars von Trier defended his enfant terrible title with aplomb at a Monday news conference for his In Competition "Antichrist."

The presser started with a shouting match between Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye and other members of the media, with Bamigboye demanding von Trier "explain and justify" the explicit sexual gore in his film and another journalist in the audience yelling: "He's an artist; you're not. He doesn't have to explain anything!"

Von Trier didn't. The Dane maintained his autistic savant persona, deliberately avoiding any explanation of "Antichrist" and alternately mocking or dismissing his interrogators.

"I don't have to explain anything. You are all my guests here, not the other way around," he said. "Anyway, I don't think about the audience when I make a film. I don't care. I make films for myself."

Von Trier did defend his use of nausea-inducing imagery — including a bloody masturbation scene and a leg-drilling sequence that could have been cribbed from the "Saw" franchise — as artistic "honesty," saying that to leave them out the shockers would have been "like lying."

He also said he wasn't playing a joke on the audience but meant everything — from the film's talking fox to a closing dedication to Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, which drew howls of laughter at the previous night's press screening — to be taken seriously.

As always, von Trier tried to have it both ways, joking that it was "a bit of a pity" one can't actually kill people on screen and putting the blame for the most extreme scenes on lead actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

"Charlotte took it too far. I tried to, but I just couldn't stop her," he quipped. (partialdiff)