With the international success of Breaking the Waves (1996) and Dancer in the Dark (2000), Lars von Trier has established himself as a one of the most provocative and daring film directors working today. The founding father of Dogma 95, he made the movement's most controversial film, The Idiots (1998), and has played a leading role in the recent resurgence of Danish cinema. Yet despite his success, von Trier remains something of an polarising and enigmatic figure hailed as the new Godard by some and a charlatan by others. In this new study, Jack Stevenson explores the achievements as well as the paradoxes of Lars von Trier, assessing his life, work, and critical reception. The book follows von Trier from his early life as a troubled son of 'Cultural Radical' parents through to his student days at the Danish Film School, diligently spent making films that were as innovative and disturbing as his later features have proved to be. These films (consisting of the Europa and Gold-Hearted trilogies) are fully examined together with considerations of his creative detours into other media and his current work in progress, Dogville. Based in Denmark, the author brings a unique perspective to Lars von Trier creating a multi-dimensional portrait of the director. Utilising sources heretofore unavailable in English, Stevenson's lively yet fact-filled narrative is accessible to students and film enthusiasts alike. The book is indispensable to anyone interested in Lars von Trier and the broader issues that surround modern Danish film and its current renaissance.
Jack Stevenson is an American critic, curator and lecturer who has been based in Denmark since 1993. He is author or editor of several books including Tod Browning's Freaks (1997), Addicted: The Myth and Menace of Drugs in Film (2000) and Fleshpot: Cinema's Sexual Myth Makers and Taboo Breakers (2000).