Culture

Lars von Trier diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

Lars von Trier, the acclaimed and controversial Danish director, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, his production company has announced.

In a statement released on Monday, Zentropa – which von Trier co-founded in 1992 with producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen – said the director is in “good spirits and is being treated for his symptoms” while he completes the upcoming final season of his TV trilogy series.

The Kingdom Exodus premieres at the Venice film festival in August and von Trier will take part in limited press events to accompany its release on Mubi later this year, the statement confirmed.

In an interview with the Guardian’s Xan Brooks in 2018, von Trier ascribed his shaking hands to antidepressants and alcohol withdrawal.

“I’m working on my alcoholism, which is good,” he said. I had an eight-month period where I didn’t drink, and I’ll get back to that again soon. But I have this alcohol ‘tool’ that I use when I have to. And, if I have a really big anxiety attack, it’s the only thing that will help.”

Lars von Trier and Kirsten Dunst at the Melancholia press conference.
Lars von Trier and Kirsten Dunst at the Melancholia press conference. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Von Trier, who is now 66, was then speaking following the Cannes premiere of his most recent feature film, serial killer movie The House That Jack Built.

That screening marked his return to the festival following seven years during which the festival declared him “persona non grata” after he jokingly said he could sympathise with Hitler during a press conference for 2011’s Melancholia.

Other than 2013’s Nymphomaniac, all von Trier’s films have debuted on the Croisette, starting in 1991 with his debut, Europa, and continuing with Breaking the Waves (1995), Dancer in the Dark (2000), Dogville (2003) and Antichrist (2009).

Von Trier remains one of the most polarising directors working today. His Dogme 95 manifesto, drawn up with likes of Thomas Vinterberg, revolutionised arthouse cinema with its uncompromising commitment to authenticity.

The black humour which underpins much of his work, as well as his confrontational approach to gender relations, has won him both devoted fans and passionate detractors.

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