Credit: Cannes Film Festival

At the press conference following the first screening of his masterpiece Melancholia, Lars von Trier was his own worst enemy, and his own jester, too. What else is new? Answering the usual, dim, blah-blah press conference questions (What were your influences? Are you happy with the movie? How was it working with Kirsten Dunstzzzzzzz?) the Danish filmmaker with a talent both for making movies and making mischief went off on weird, dumb tangents. He talked about porn (He said that’s the kind of movie he’s making next), he mentioned Jews, and got tangled up in musings about Nazis. (He said he used to think he was a Jew. Now he thinks he may be a Nazi.) Then again, he also said that maybe his new movie is crap.

He would have done better with a green light flashing over his head flashing JOKE! JOKE! Any journalist who has ever seen von Trier at one of his many Cannes press conferences over the years knows that the man is simultaneously shy and provocative, depressed and joking, off-the-cuff and off-the-wall. Any reporter with any sense of perspective knows not to take such stinkbombs at face value.

Yet because von Trier got tangled in spewing nonsense and couldn’t dig his way out, well, of course easy-route journalists got their headline: LVT says he may be a Nazi! As a result, now I’ve got a case of melancholia, depressed that such a cheap headline can eclipse the real news that, emerging, painfully, from serious depression, Lars von Trier has made brilliant art.

[UPDATE: After a morning of breathless headlines, von Trier issued this clarification: “If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not antisemitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.”]

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