I ran right up to the Orange wifi cafe after escaping from Lars von Trier‘s Antichrist, which had begun at 7:30 pm in the Salle Debussy. I sat down and wrote for a solid hour, so charged by what I’d just seen and what had just happened — easily one of the biggest debacles in Cannes Film Festival history and the complete meltdown of a major film artist in a way that invites comparison to the sinking of the Titanic — that I didn’t pay attention to the fact that my plug adapter wasn’t giving power.
The computer went down and I lost everything. Seven or eight really
It’s now 10:42 pm and the Orange cafe is about to close. It’s over and finished and I’m sick of this day. It’s been one thing after another today (heat, sweat, lost power cord) and I know when I’m beaten and drained. I’ll sit down and write more again tomorrow. But my God, what a screening! What a reaction! Critics howling, hooting, shrieking.
There’s no way Antichrist isn’t a major career embarassment for costars
Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and a possible career stopper for Von Trier.
It’s an out-and-out disaster — one of the most absurdly on-the-nose, heavy-handed and unintentionally comedic calamities I’ve ever seen in my life. On top of which it’s dedicated to the late Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, whose rotted and decomposed body is now quite possibly clawing its way out of the grave to stalk the earth, find an axe and slay Von Trier in his bed.
Here’s a portion of Von Trier’s “director’s confession” from the press book:
“Two years ago I suffered from depression. Everything, no matter what, seems unimportant, trivial. I couldn’t work. Six months later, jsut as an exercise, I wrote a script. It was a kind of therapy, but also a search, a test to see if would ever make another film.
“The script was finished and filmed without much enthusiasm, made as it was using about half of my physical and intellectual capacity. Scenes were added for no reason. Images were composed free of logic or dramatic thinking. They often came from dreams I was having at the time, or dreams I’d had earlier in my life.
“In any case I offer no excuses for Antichrist. Other than my absolute belief in the film — the most important film of my entire career!”
A man whom I’ve admired and respected for many years has lost his mind for the time being, or at last lost it while he was writing and shooting the film. I just can’t fathom how the director of Breaking The Waves and Dancer in the Dark and Dogville could have made something so amateurishly awful. The decent and compassionate thing would be to forget Antichrist and to forgive Von Trier. To put it aside and move on on all fronts.
I know that if I had been in Dafoe or Gainsbourg’s shoes I would have come to my senses and walked off the film. I would have said “go ahead, sue me — I welcome a lawsuit!” and walked home proudly and at peace.