Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"We Are All Products of the United States" - von Trier

From Der Spiegel

SPIEGEL: Your new film, "Manderlay," doesn't have to do with the American art of baking cakes but deals with the issue of race. You show former slaves who, after gaining their freedom, wish for the old order. Isn't this some sort of white man's fantasy?

Trier: No, the inspiration came from the introduction to the erotic novel, "Story of O," with the title "Happiness in Slavery." The French writer Jean Paulhan tells of the former slaves on the Caribbean island of Barbados who ask their former master to take them on as slaves again. When the man refuses, he and his family are massacred.

SPIEGEL: Paulhan also wrote about prejudice in his essay. He talks about an Englishman who, in Calais, steps on French ground for the first time and sees a red-haired woman in the harbor. From this, the Englishman concludes that all French woman have red hair. Isn't this similar to your way of working?

Trier: A little, but as opposed to this idiotic Englishman, I actually didn't travel to the country I'm making films about. You can see some things better from a distance than if you were standing directly in front of them. The distance gives me more artistic freedom. I can ask naive questions which the Americans themselves aren't allowed to ask. more


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