This is a few hours old, but it appears that Lars von Trier’s decision to have a donkey killed for a scene in his forthcoming Manderlay (which will have its debut screening in Cannes nine weeks from now) was all for naught. For the sake of realism, an ailing donkey was given an actual lethal injection for a scene in which hungry people kill a donkey for food. Reports about this provoked a big uproar from Scandinavian animal rights groups, and costar John C. Reilly quit the film in protest (and was replaced by Zeljko Ivanek), and Von Trier’s producer Peter Aalbaek-Jensen lived up his reputation as a subtle charmer when he told a Swedish reporter “that fucking donkey was going to die anyway.” But now von Trier has caved into the protests and is cutting the scene from the film, saying he doesn’t want the film’s political and social themes be overshadowed by a donkey. “The welfare of animals is important,” he told a reporter, “but the welfare of people is in my opinion even more so — part of this is free speech and political debate.” A Swedish newspaper reported that a mass e-mail campaign by more than 300 animal rights activists forced von Trier to cut it out. Von Trier said that the meat from the donkey was “passed along, so it could be a part of the food chain, which donkey meat is these days.” He admitted, though, that killing the donkey might have been a bit “pointless.” Here’s a link from a Swedish newspaper, and here’s another . Remember how Francis Coppola killed an ox (i.e., had its head cut off) in Apocalypse Now? I don’t remember anyone sqawking about that.