Lars Von Trier Film Finds Support in PETA Amid Backlash

Courtesy of Cannes

'The House That Jack Built' sparked walkouts in Cannes, but the pro-animal rights group is cheering the Danish director for using "movie magic" in a notorious scene.

Lars Von Trier's The House That Jack Built sparked widespread groans and walkouts when it screened out of competition in Cannes. But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the pro-animal rights group, on Thursday applauded the Danish filmmaker for using prosthetics rather than a live animal in a notorious scene where a young boy grabs a duckling and snips off one of its legs.

"Following numerous calls about a scene in Lars von Trier's film The House That Jack Built in which a young child uses a pair of pliers to cut a duckling's leg off, PETA has confirmed that the 'leg' was created using movie magic and silicone parts," PETA senior vp Lisa Lange said in a statement about the animal mutilation scene.

Von Trier's latest film stars Matt Dillon as Jack, a serial killer who views his murders as elaborate works of art. PETA said using creative and humane visual effects in The House That Jack Built underlined how animal mutilation can become a gateway to murdering people.

"While depictions of gratuitous violence like this may leave viewers sickened, it's true that serial killers, like the character in the film, often get their start by first torturing animals, making the scene all the more realistic and disturbing," Lange said.

She added that another controversial scene in the film with images of tigers used stock footage. Lange said it proved that "there's no need to use live wild animals in productions, thanks to the many humane alternatives being embraced by filmmakers today."