Lars von Trier is one of the most troubled and brilliant directors of recent history, with his often controversial yet never disinteresting films such as Dogville, Antichrist, and Melancholia pushing the envelope of good taste and often his audiences’ sanity. His newest film, the two-part Nymphomaniac, has officially announced that not only will it continue in that vein, but it has every intention of creating its own genre in and of itself.
Mystery has so far surrounded the upcoming film, with one of the stars, Lawless’s Shia LaBeouf, confirming the rumors that all of the sex that occurs in the film will be real between the actors. While, as of press time, that claim has been disputed, with von Trier claiming instead that CGI and digital super imposing will place the actors, who simulated the acts, onto pornographic body doubles, a recent press release has now shed some light on the structure of the film.
Nymphomaniac will be the first von Trier film to debut after the infamously jarring director’s persona non grata from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, leading the director to publicly refrain from all public statements and interviews. Produced by von Trier’s Zentropa Pictures, the film stars a cavalcade of former and new von Trier collaborators, including Antichrist stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melancholia stars Stellan Skarsgaard and Udo Kier, Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Shia Lebeouf, Jamie Bell, Connie Nielsen, Jesper Christansen and Kate Ashfield.
Using a structure known from literature, Nymphomaniac consists of chapters, encapsulating both VOLUME I and VOLUME II. According to the press release, during the next eight months, starting from June and continuing to the release, parts of these chapters will be published exclusively by newspapers from around the world. Each chapter teaser is defined by a headline, a still and a short narrative that playfully unveils the multilayered universe of Nymphomaniac with which Lars von Trier wants to introduce a new film genre: Digressionism.
[Digress /dɪˈgrɛs, daɪ-/ verb: Depart from the main subject]
The ominous chapters of Nymphomaniac will include:
Chapter 1: The Complete Angler
Chapter 2: Jerome
Chapter 3: Mrs. H
Chapter 4: Delirium
Chapter 5: The Little Organ School
Chapter 6: The Eastern & Western Church (The Silent Duck)
Chapter 7: The Mirror
Chapter 8: The Gun
Lars von Trier is no stranger to the chapter format, with most of his films- most notably Dogville, a parable told in 9 chapters with the added adornment of a prologue and epilogue. The infamous Antichrist is also told in its own four chapters. Sex, death, and everything in between are also not new subjects for this director, so why the sudden genre declaration?
Will Digressionism become the latest cinematic craze? Should Digressionism even be called its own genre? That all depends on the release of the star-studded Nymphomaniac slated for release in “Softcore” and “Hardcore” versions of both I and II in art house theaters by Magnolia Pictures starting on Christmas Day.
– By Catherine Kovach