Von Trier Talks Melancholia

'No more happy endings,' says Lars

To absolutely no one's surprise. Lars von Trier's latest film, Melancholia, starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland and more, was announced today as competing in Cannes this year. Unusually for von Trier, the film has strong sci-fi elements, with Dunst's character getting married just as an enormous planet is discovered that will soon smash the Earth into smithereens.

Until now, nothing has been known about the film, except for the director's terse (and somewhat tongue-in-cheek) announcement that there will be “no more happy endings”. This week, however, a very cheerful von Trier broke cover to discuss the film – sight unseen – with Empire.

Despite the film's disturbing premise, von Trier assured us that Melancholia will not top the genital-mutilating antics of his last film, the visually shocking and divisive Antichrist. Instead, he believes this film shows his more romantic side – although, as always with von Trier, that doesn't mean the 54 year-old provocateur is finally going soft.

“As you can see in the trailer,” he told us, “Melancholia, [which is the name of] the planet, is kind of ten times bigger than the Earth, and I liked the idea of being 'swallowed' by Melancholia. I thought that was quite nice. And then I read today that that's actually one of the virtues of romanticism – willingly being purified by dying. In fact, the film contains maybe more of the original idea of romanticism. I'm just saying that a lot of films today, their interpretation of romanticism is... quite boring, I think.”

In the meantime, anyone worried for the physical and mental well-being of Ms Dunst should know that, having put the likes of Emily Watson, Bjork, Nicole Kidman and Charlotte Gainsbourg well and truly through the ringer, aside from shooting a couple of (seemingly tasteful) nude scenes, von Trier went easy on the Spider-Man star.

“I think that Kirsten got off FAR too easy. FAR too easy,” he laughs. “She was not dragged through any masturbation. She had a very smooth ride, I would say. But she did an extremely good job.”

More of von Trier's musings on the film, plus news of Melancholia's outrageous follow-up, will appear in a future issue of Empire.