The Impure Cinema and the Provocative and Infamous Films of Lars von Trier

Doru POP


This paper was part of the special feature panel of the Provocation as Art conference (Cluj 28-29 May 2015), dedicated to the philosophy and aesthetics of Lars von Trier’s cinema, with a special interest in the so called Depression Trilogy (Antichrist, Melancholia and Nymphomaniac). The initial purpose of this paper was to discuss the irreverent nature the Dutch director’s cinema and the consequences of censorship on cinematic contents. Yet the main argument shifts, when it becomes obvious that the various obstructions imposed on the creative spirit of movie directors have created a type of moviemaking which can be described as a “pure cinema”. This kind of cinema is the main object of criticism practiced by filmmakers who challenged the limits of the “morally acceptable”, such as Lars von Trier. Their reactions to the “pure cinematic” generated a movement this author identifies as “impure cinema”. The final contention of the paper is that, in the contexts of a highly censored environments, where politically correct contexts are hypocritically imposed and a consumer society is developed, where audiences are passive, the only possible path free thinking and artistic creativity can follow is the path of impurity.

Keywords: pornographic representations, obscenity in cinema, Lars von Trier, Nymphomaniac, pure and impure cinema