Lars von Trier on Barry Lyndon

Watching Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon is a pleasure, like eating a very good soup. It is very stylised and then suddenly comes some emotion [when the child falls off the horse]. There is not a lot of emotion. There are a lot of moods and some fantastic photography, really like these old paintings.

Thank God he didn’t have a computer. If he had a computer at that time, you wouldn’t care, but you know he has been waiting three weeks for this mountain fog or whatever. It is overwhelming with the boy, because it is suddenly this emotional thing. The character Barry Lyndon is not very emotional. In fact, he is the opposite. He is an opportunist.

I saw the film when it came out. I was in my early twenties. The first time I saw it, I slept. It was on too late and it is a very, very long film. What is interesting is that Nicole Kidman told me Kubrick hated long films. If you have seen Barry Lyndon, the last scene of the film, where she is writing out a cheque for him, is extremely long. It goes on and on and on, but it’s beautiful.

The good thing is that Kubrick always sets his standards. Barry Lyndon to me is a masterpiece. He casts in a very strange way, Kubrick. It is a very strange cast. But that is how the film should be, of course. This thing that he liked short films was very surprising. And he liked Krzysztof Kieslowski very much. He was crazy about Kieslowski.

I don’t know if Kubrick saw any of my films, but I know Tarkovsky watched the first film I did and hated it! That is how it is supposed to be.

peeping tom

peeping

“It’s hard to think of an established modern-day film-maker having the same effect that Michael Powell did with Peeping Tom. Maybe Lars von Trier, in that it seems to be a crucial part of whatever he does; that desire to shock and amaze and appal. I say this with great trepidation, but I can kind of imagine Quentin Tarantino doing it too. It would have to be a very peculiar set of circumstances, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.”

En Blomst (1971)

Watch a Short Film Lars von Trier Made When He Was 15

from the moment that little Lars (then going by simply “von Trier”) slaps his name in big capital letters across the start of this short film, which he made at the age of 15 in 1971, you can see the first provocative hints of the auteur we would all come to know and love and / or hate and / or endure. if anything, by the time the Hallelujah Chorus kicks in, it almost feels as if En Blomst announced precisely what von Trier would hope to explore and agitate with his professional career, like a promise he made to himself and from which he has never deviated (some would argue he still has yet to mature). this precocious little movie is a delightful artifact, and — like all of von Trier’s work — not for the faint of heart.