Controversy around a Lars von Trier film is like the changing of the seasons or the tides of the sea: it’s bound to arrive eventually. His latest, hard-core sex-filled drama Nymphomaniac, has been making waves from the start, but the latest twist is one that even von Trier might not have seen, er, coming: he’s letting someone else edit the final version.
In an article to Danish cinema mag Filmmagasinet Ekko, which was provided to The Hollywood Reporter, producer and regular von Trier collaborator Peter Aalbaek Jensen explained that the director originally intended a 5 ½ hour edit of the film, but that its final form – at least for theatrical release in Denmark – will be two two-hour portions.
“The short version is against Lars’ own will, but he accepts it because he understands market mechanisms,” Jensen says. “You cannot make a film for more than 60 million kroners (roughly £6.7 million) that is so lengthy. Five and a half hours is so extreme that it reduces market value so radically that investors would have felt they had bought a pig in a poke.” Promise us he won’t use the words “pig” and “poke” in connection with the film again…
According to Jensen, von Trier hasn’t even seen the snipped version, but at least one compromise won’t be made – the film(s) shown in Danish cinemas will be the full hard-core versions, instead of the original plan to release both soft and hard varieties. Different distributors will decide which elements to blur. Some trying times ahead for censors, we fear.
As for the possibility of a director’s cut? Nothing is known yet, but you’d expect von Trier to find some way to get it out in the world. And now we’ll stop talking about this film in ways that invite Sid James-style chuckling. With Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman and Connie Nielsen among the cast, Nymphomaniac will hit Denmark on December 25, but has no set UK date yet.