Director Lars Von Trier had one of those ‘Mel Gibson’ moments at Cannes yesterday when, for some bizarre reason, he declared that he’s pleased to be descended from Nazis and can “sympathize” with Hitler.
“I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi. You know because my family was German, Hartmann, which also gave me some pleasure,” he said with a cheerful smile when asked about his German heritage. “I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. I’m just saying that I think I understand the man. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but, yeah, I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit, yes. But, come on, I’m not for the Second World War. And I’m not against Jews.”
Sitting next to him at the press conference to promote their film Melancholia, Kirsten Dunst murmured: “Oh my God, this is terrible,” giggling at first and then looking as though she wanted the earth to swallow her up as Von Trier’s awkward racist rambling continued.
Von Trier also shared his thoughts on Israel and Hitler’s chief architect Albert Speer.
“I am of course very much for Jews, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass,” he said. “Still — how can I get out of this sentence? — I just want to say, about the art, I’m very much for Speer,” he said, adding that the convicted Nazi war criminal had “talent.”
He then deadpanned that his next movie could be The Final Solution, the Nazis’ code word for the Holocaust.
In a brief statement sent out by his colleague Meta Louise Foldager, Von Trier apologized for what he said.
“If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.”
In an unprecedented move, the Cannes Film Festival has banned the Danish filmmaker for his remarks.