Director Lars von Trier Worries About His Future in Filmmaking After Opening Up About Sobriety
This is sad to hear. Danish film director and screenwriter Lars von Trier, better known for his work on projects like Breaking the Waves, Dogville, Melancholia, and Nymphomaniac, has publicly announced his concern for the future of his films. Though he's had a controversial relationship with the entertainment industry in the past — specifically, in 2011, he was banned from the Cannes Film Festival for stating that he felt empathy for Adolf Hitler — the reason for the director’s worry has nothing to do with his reputation amongst moviegoers and others in the industry. Instead, in an exclusive interview with Politiken, Lars von Trier admitted that he’s receiving treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, and fears his sobriety will negatively impact his movies.
Noting that he had written almost all of his films while under the influence — even claiming he had been on drugs for 12 days while writing Dogville according to The Guardian — von Trier said this in his interview:
I don’t know if I can make any more films, and that worries me. There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug addicts. Who the hell would bother with a Rolling Stones without booze or with a Jimi Hendrix without heroin?
Considering von Trier’s past controversial comments, this latest interview with him doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Although I’m extremely glad to hear that the director is getting help by being clean and attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings daily, a difficult feat for anyone trying to stay sober, I feel it's tremendously sad he believes that he thinks he the quality of his work will suffer from now on.
Substance abuse is an extremely serious thing, and it’s quite commendable that Von Trier is clean — but, in a way, his statement seems to be a bit of a disservice to other great men and women involved in the movie industry, and hopefully won't cause Von Trier to give up his attempts to stay sober because he doesn't think he'll produce good material.
Many notable directors, actors, actresses, and writers have dealt with their own difficult pasts, whether that included drug abuse or not, and yet they were able to push through and get to where they are now — take Robert Downey Jr. history with drug addiction, for instance. Many Hollywood celebrities who have experienced addiction and gone to rehab for help, they both came back to tackle any films they could put their hands on, and some great ones at that.
So while I can somewhat see why von Trier is concerned about his future films — he must be in a scary position, especially as he's making such a huge, great change in his life — I think he needs to focus on staying sober for himself and his health as he moves forward with his filmmaking career.