Lars Von Trier revolutionized European cinema in the 90s. He created, with Thomas Vinterberg, the Dogma, a movement that wanted to shake up modern cinema as the Nouvelle Vague did decades before. He built a filmography in which he always offered the opposite of what was expected of him. Always provocative, radical and wild. Capable of moving to the core with an anti-death penalty musical like Dancer in the Dark and playing with the boundaries of film and stage performance in Dogville, he has never failed to amaze.
In 1994 Von Trier had already shaken up Danish television with The Kingdom, a horror series set in a hospital that became a phenomenon that even had an American remake sponsored by Stephen King. Now, almost 30 years later, the director returns to that hospital to close the series with a third season —The Kingdom: Exodus, which Filmin will premiere soon— which he has presented at the Venice Festival. He has done it remotely, from his house and shortly after announcing that he suffers from Parkinson's, something that has not prevented him from attending the press. Von Trier's appearance is impressive. Little remains of that physical wonder that ate journalists at press conferences in Cannes. The symptoms of his illness are evident, and for this reason he confronts the matter before a small group of journalists with the same frankness with which he has always entered all the gardens in his interviews.
At the moment he rules out retirement, although he knows that it could well come by force. "I could hardly stop doing it... Of course I can die suddenly, which would make it difficult to continue shooting, but I think I will continue doing it. My idea is to make more films because that is what I can do," he says with a straw hat openwork and a showy flowered shirt.
He speaks about death openly, directly. He's been talking about her in her movies for years, and The Kingdom: Exodus also addresses the blurring lines between the living and the dead. Von Trier disarms with his frankness and assures that the fear of dying has not only not grown, but quite the opposite: "I think my fear of death has faded a little because I feel happy. There is nothing I have to do. I would like to do something else, but it's not like I have something to do that I haven't done yet."
What does scare him is the war in the Ukraine. "I am very scared. I think we have lived through the golden age of democracy and we thought it would remain like this forever. But in reality, now we are downhill from ten years ago. I think the Westerners have underestimated Putin. He is a tenant of the KGB and has said every year in his speeches that the worst day of his life was when the Soviet Union fell apart. If you heard that from someone else, I think you would say, well, this man is a danger, but there he is." , ditch.
The new season of The Kingdom plays metareferences to resurrect its own television universe. In these new episodes, the series he shot exists within fiction itself, and the protagonist decides that it did not end well, that there are still ties to close between the living and the dead, so he returns to the hospital. There is a lot of irony, bad milk and even self-insults. The characters do not stop saying barbarities about the director. An experience that is as terrifying as it is fun, with the hospital workers saying that because of Von Trier, everyone believes that paranormal things happen there.
A game of mirrors between reality and fiction that has allowed him to overcome one of the challenges of this continuation, since many of the actors from the first episodes have already died, something that caused him quite a few headaches during the writing of the script, for that started "with this trick of putting someone on the show who watched the old episodes." But humor is not something punctual in his new creature, but it runs through the entire series, which laughs at what one should not.
Gone is that enfant terrible who was declared persona non grata at the Cannes Film Festival for joking and say he understood what Hitler had done. He apologized and he knows it was stupid, but he still thinks that his right to say what he wants should have prevailed, because that is his most precious asset. That is why he loves "irony and satire, because they have to do with freedom of expression." "I had problems in Cannes, as you know, for saying some stupid things, but still, the main thing is that what we need for this world is freedom of expression."
A freedom of expression that has allowed the Danish director to make films as provocative as Ninphomaniac, where explicit sex was the constant; or Antichrist, where, again, sex was mixed with the terrifying and with the drama of the loss of a child. A kamikaze who wants to continue dazzling with his stories even if his illness makes things difficult for him.