Time for a spot of international blaspheming

Tomorrow is Blasphemy Day International. Apparently. Not that I know much about this noble initiative, the promotion of which appears restricted to an obscure facebook page, the web forums of various indignant godbotherers, and enlightened saved ones who feign indifference to this slight on their Invisible Magic Friend. In these few words I’ve done my bit for my Lord Satan.

To be honest, though, I’m not particularly uninterested in Blasphemy Day International, even though I wish its backers well in their free speech campaign. For me this is an excuse to comment on an interview with actor Charlotte Gainsbourg in the Frankfurter Rundschau (see here for an English translation). Gainsbourg starred alongside Willem Dafoe in Lars von Trier‘s 2009 offering, Antichrist.

Von Trier is a complex character, and something of a polarising figure in celluloid culture. His latest film has attracted praise and condemnation in unequal measure. Mostly words of damnation, truth be told, including from a gaggle of precious culture vultures who in disgust stomped out of a screening in Cannes. Antichrist has been attacked for what some critics view as the director’s misogyny, and its graphic portrayal of sexual violence.

I have yet to see the film, but intend to do so at some point. I have a love-hate relationship with von Trier’s work, but on balance this tends toward the love. It wasn’t always thus, however, and I didn’t really gain a measure of the man until I saw “De fem benspænd”.

Reading Martina Meister’s interview with Gainsbourg, I’m struck by the fact that until now no-one has seen fit to question the actor about the misogyny charges levelled by many a gobby film critic. Instead they concentrate on interviewing – or rather, having a pop at – von Trier. That is a mistake, for as the critic Mark Kermode says, the last person whose word on Lars von Trier you should trust is … Lars von Trier.

Hat tip for Gainsbourg interview: Herr Dr Johannes Müller-Wood
Hat tip for Blasphemy Day International: Rev Dr Peter Hearty