February 14, 2017
Exclusive: The Danish director’s The House That Jack Built ‘celebrates the idea that life is evil and soulless, which is sadly proven by the recent rise of the Homo trumpus – the rat king’
Lars von Trier, the Danish auteur whose films have rarely shied from controversy, is to make a film inspired in part by new US president Donald Trump. The previously announced The House That Jack Built stars Matt Dillon in the title role as a “highly intelligent” man we follow over 12 years. The film “introduces the murders that define [his] development as a serial killer”.
Speaking on 13 February, Von Trier explained the project’s origins further: “The House That Jack Built celebrates the idea that life is evil and soulless, which is sadly proven by the recent rise of the Homo trumpus – the rat king.”
Last week, Von Trier shared a photo to promote the film: of himself, in period costume, with scythe, tolling a bell. He described the picture as “an evocative image with a cinematic reference” – apparently to fellow Dane Carl Theodore Dreyer’s 1937 horror Vampyr.
The director has largely refrained from commenting on his films since he was declared “persona non grata” at the Cannes film festival after making a joke about Hitler at a press conference for the film Melancholia in 2011.
His next film, Nymphomaniac (2014), premiered in two halves at the Berlin film festival. A hardcore odyssey featuring real sex, it starred regular collaborator Charlotte Gainsbourg alongside the likes of Uma Thurman and Shia LaBeouf. LaBeouf’s co-star in American Honey, Riley Keough, will also feature in The House That Jack Built, alongside The Killing’s Sofie Gråbøl.
Von Trier has never been to the US, but many of his films are set there, including 2009’s Antichrist, in which Gainsbourg takes sharp implements to her and husband Willem Dafoe’s genitals and Dogville (2003), a Brechtian epic that sees visiting Nicole Kidman enslaved by local townsfolk. The end credits of that film involved stills of various atrocities committed pre-emancipation, to the sound of David Bowie’s Young Americans.
The House That Jack Built begins shooting in Sweden in March, before moving to Copenhagen in May. It will be released in 2018.