Manifesto of Lars von Trier
All is seemingly well: the film director Lars von Trier is a man of science, an artist and a human being. And yet I could equally state that I am a human being but an artist, but a man of science, but a film director.
The sin I want to confess is intolerance. The excuse that I was seduced by the arrogance of science is itself a lie that plummets to the ground. Perhaps it is true, I did try to intoxicate myself in a cloud of sophistry about the meaning of art and the duty of the artist; that I invented ingenious theories about the anatomy and nature of film; but, and this I openly confess, at no time was I ever able, with this simple smoke screen, to suppress my deepest passion: my carnal need.
Our attitude to film can be described in so many ways and lead us in so many different directions.
We can drape it in profound theories, we can climb aboard it and let ourselves be carried off on a voyage of discovery to unknown lands, or we can insist that film is the potion we use to influence our audience and make them smile, or weep and pay. All this sounds very convincing, and yet I don't believe it. There is only one excuse for having to go through and to force others to go through the hell that is the creative process of the film: the carnal pleasure of that split second in the cinemas, when the projector and the loudspeakers, in unison, allow the illusion of sound and motion to burst forth, like an electron abandoning its orbit to generate light, and create the ultimate: a miraculous surge of life. It is this, and this alone, that is the film maker's reward, his hope, his claim.
When the magic of the film really works and the sensuous feeling it creates sweeps through the body in orgasmic waves…that is the experience I seek; that and that alone has always been the driving force behind my work. Nothing else. There! I have written it and it feels good. Forget all the excuses, "the childish fascination" and "the all embracing humility", for this is my confession, black on white:
I, Lars von Trier, am but a simple masturbator of the silver screen.
And yet, "EUROPA", the third part of the trilogy, is without even the faintest trace of the smallest red herring.
Purity and clarity have, at last, been achieved. There is nothing left to stifle reality under clinging layers of "Art"…, no trick is too crass, no method too cheap, no effect too vulgar for this film. Give me but a solitary tear or a single drop of sweat, and I will gladly exchange all the "art" in the world for it.
And finally, I submit my alchemic attempts with life from celluloid to God for His judgment. One thing is certain…God's real life, that we meet when we leave the cinema, can never be matched…for it is His creation and, as such, divine…
L.v.T. Copenhagen, Dec. 29, 1990