Danish director Lars von Trier is feeling “relatively well” so far after doctors recently diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease. “But it will take some time to get used to shaking hands,” he told the visitors of the Venice Film Festival.
The 66-year-old author of Break the Waves, Dance in the Dark or Antichrist recently completed the third season of the Kingdom series. His crew came to Venice in person, Trier is not participating in person due to illness. He spoke with journalists remotely via the Zoom platform this Friday. “I think I feel relatively well, it’s just that the Parkinson’s makes me feel a little more stupid than before,” he concluded.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system. It is manifested, among other things, by impaired walking, balancing and coordination or involuntary movements and convulsions of the body. The production company Zentropa, which he co-founded in 1992, announced last month that Lars von Trier suffers from this disease.
The director already felt the first symptoms during the filming of the new Kingdom series. Like the first two series from the 1990s, it combines elements of horror, fantasy and comedy. It takes place again in the neurosurgery department of a Copenhagen hospital.
Already at the end of the last millennium, the filmmaker was planning a third season, but then he did not have time to film it due to the death of one of the leading roles. “Now when we finally started making the trio, I didn’t know I was already sick and I was miserable the whole time. I hope the actors didn’t notice,” he says. “Before filming, I didn’t play the old parts. Rather, I tried to cut them off. I only thought about the characters,” he adds.
He did not strive at all costs for something modern or to revive the original spirit of the series. “I just wanted to enjoy it. When you look at it, you’ll find a lot of mistakes, but I hope it feels alive,” he sums up.
The third season of Králství, subtitled Exodus, consists of five one-hour episodes, which will be shown on October 9 by the online platform Viapaly and later by the Danish television DR. As early as this autumn, the news will also reach Czech viewers, in cinemas and on the internet platform Kviff.tv.
In both ways, it will be possible to see the first two series again in the Czech Republic, Aerofilms announced this week. She describes The Kingdom as “a ghost story about a hospital built on top of the old bleaching ponds in Copenhagen, where evil has taken root and medical science faces a daily battle with itself, where the Swedes curse the Danes and where the mysterious and the inexplicable mix in a mixture of horror and humor.”
A picture from the third season of the series The Kingdom. | Photo: Christian Geisnaes
The heroine of the third series is a new character, the sleepwalker Karen. “Under the strong influence of the original ghost series, she searches for answers to unsolved questions from the first series and hopes to save her own hospital from destruction. One night, a desperate woman wanders into the dark in her sleep and inexplicably finds herself in front of the hospital. The gate to the Kingdom years ago,” announces the distributor.
Karen is played by 61-year-old Bodil Jørgensen, known from Trier’s film Idiots. In it, she portrayed a character with the same name.
Lars von Trier has had success at film festivals in the past, for example with the film Dance in the Dark, which featured the Icelandic singer Björk and which received the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2000. Many years later, Björk accused the director of sexual harassment. He refused, but the singer insists on the statements.
It was in Cannes that Trier was banned 11 years ago when he declared at a press conference that he had a “certain understanding” of the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. The director later apologized, saying that he was being treated for alcohol and drug addiction and vowed not to speak to the press any longer. He returned to Cannes only in 2018, and is already communicating with the media again.
Trier likes to break taboos and shoot extreme scenes. He graduated from the Copenhagen film school, founded Zentropa in the early 90s to have creative freedom. Because the company needed money, Trier filmed two series of the Králství series for it.
Otherwise, he made his debut in 1984 with the film Prvek krominu, which became the basis of the so-called European trilogy, further consisting of the titles Epidemic and Evropa. With the film Dogville, filmed in 2003 without a backdrop, the author started another trilogy, this time an American one.
Trier is also famous as a co-author of the artistic manifesto Dogma 95, from which the European cinematographic movement developed. The main idea was to remove any effects and focus on the story and acting.
The principles of the Dogma 95 program, which he formulated with the Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, Trier partially applied in the films Break the Waves and Dance in the Dark. He also fully followed it in the drama Idioti, shot without artificial lighting. In 2005, both von Trier and Vinterberg distanced themselves from the manifesto.
Trier’s more recent works include the two-part Nymphomaniac and Jack Builds a House. The director’s life is “full of fear, panic attacks and depression”, he told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung four years ago. “It’s been like this since I was six years old. Since then I have to live with it and somehow manage to deal with the drugs that I have had to take for more than five decades,” he said.
In 2014, the filmmaker announced that he no longer drinks one bottle of vodka a day, nor does he take narcotics as he did before.
According to the critic Kamil Fila, it is not appropriate to understand Trier as a madman who pours out his inner deviations on the screen. “Perhaps all of his pictures are deeply thought-out, controlled, multi-layered works. His deteriorated mental states do not help him, nor are they the primary source of creation, rather they prevent him from it, and it is admirable that he can complete something in such quality,” he wrote on Aktuálně.cz .