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Charlotte Gainsbourg On Lars Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ Crisis

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Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier, who’s no stranger to being labeled a “misogynist”, has made somewhat of a career of tormenting women onscreen. And offscreen, if you ask Charlotte Gainsbourg, who stars in his latest film Antichrist.

The French actress says Von Trier warned her that he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to finish the film because he was suffering from intense panic attacks:

I hadn’t met him before so I didn’t know what kind of man he was, but he did explain in a very simple way that he had had a depression, that he was under heavy medication, and just trying to deal with his panic attacks that he had all the time. That was scary because he came up after the first week, to me and to Willem (Dafoe, who costars in the film) and explained that he didn’t know if he could finish the film, that he didn’t know how to cope with his attacks, that I would have to excuse him if he ran away, and I was terrified at the thought that he would leave me – leave me on my own to make the film.

It sounds like Gainsbourg’s experience would have sent most Hollywood actresses running to the hills. Imagine Katherine Heigl putting up with that. She’d just as soon work with Seth Rogen again.

As for Gainsbourg, she ended up winning the Best Actress prize at this years Cannes Film Festival for the role, so I assume all is forgiven with Von Trier. The actual film is a different story. Critics don’t seem to know what to make of Antichrist.

The reaction at the festival was the usual mix of those that loved it or hated it, which greets most of Von Trier’s movie’s. After seeing the film, Roger Ebert wrote in his blog:

After his Breaking the Waves premiered at Cannes in 1996, Georgia Brown of the Village Voice fled to the rest room in emotional turmoil and Janet Maslin of the New York Times followed to comfort her. After this one, Richard and Mary Corliss blogged at Time.com that Antichrist presented the spectacle of a director going mad.

Any film that gets critics this riled is definitely on my list. Especially when Von Trier is involved. In the past ten years, his work has always been exciting, challenging and unpredictable. Dancer in the Dark and Dogville are truly extraordinary films. There really aren’t many directors as fearless as him these days. Posted below is the trailer for Antichrist and a clip from its press conference at Cannes.

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