Lars von Trier Announces TV Show + His 5 Most Traumatic Scenes

Starting next year, television is about to get a whole lot more horrifying with the help of the one and only Lars von Trier. The controversial Danish director has announced an upcoming 8 episode series for American television that will feature a sprawling cast and copious, copious amounts of blood. Von Trier is no stranger to horror television, having produced a miniseries about a haunted hospital called The Kingdom for Danish TV in the late 90’s, but this new project promises to be even spookier. Titled The House That Jack Built, the show will revolve around the life of a serial killer and will be told from his point of view, assuring maximum discomfort for the viewers at home.

But of course, any fan of von Trier is no stranger to discomfort. The director thrives on it, be it in your face guts and gore or extreme emotional plight, the man knows how to push our buttons and make us feel all nasty inside. Because his new series won’t even begin filming until next year, we’ve decided to re-live our favorite, or at least most jarring, moments of shock in the director’s oeuvre. Ranked from disturbing to ‘Dear God What is Happening On Screen,’ here’s our list of the Top 5 Most Traumatic Lars von Trier Moments. Needless to say, this is NSFW, and spoilers abound.

5. Melancholia—A Wedding Night to Remember

Though most of Melancholia deals with the impending destruction of Earth via planetary collision, just as much of the film follows the trials and tribulations of a severely depressed Kirsten Dunst. The film’s first half follows her character, Justine’s, wedding reception, one full of heatedly tense moments. This culminates in the refusal to sleep with her newly wedded husband, the devastatingly hot Alexander Skarsgard, on their wedding night, instead, meeting one of her drunk coworkers outside and having sex with him on a golf course. Understandably, her husband leaves her in the morning, but we’re left with the bizarre repercussions Justine refused to acknowledge, not to mention the emotional trauma of seeing Alexander Skarsgard get cheated on. Sorry boo.

4. Dogville—Nicole Kidman Spanks a Child

Dogville is one of the more bizarre entries from a filmmaker who thrives on the bizarre. A three hour epic that chronicles Nicole Kidman’s slide into servitude and public ridicule is an odd premise to swallow, aided by the overtly minimalist theatrical setting. As Kidman’s character Grace becomes more and more subservient to the townspeople of Dogville, everyone starts turning against her, even the children. In the film’s most memorable scene, a 10 year old boy bribes her into spanking him. It’s creepy, it’s discomforting, and more than a little perverse.

3. Dancer in the Dark—A Brutally Sad Ending

Maybe it’s because our heroine Selma is played by none other than Bjork, but the ending to von Trier’s ambitious musical drama Dancer in the Dark is one of the most emotionally devastating endings in cinema we can think of. After a tragic chain of events, Selma has found herself on the execution block for a crime she didn’t commit, nor could she even pay for a lawyer as she used the money for an eye surgery to prevent her son going blind. If that doesn’t make you feel sad, just watch the clip and observe her silent scream of horror as they attempt to put the death shroud over her, moments before she is to be hung. It’s a testament to Bjork’s incredible acting talent and the audience’s capacity for emotional trauma.

2. Nymphomaniac—The DIY Abortion

Picking just one hard to watch scene from the six hour, two part epic of sexual deviance that is Nymphomaniac seemed challenging, until we remembered this pivotal moment, a scene only available in the director’s cut. Without going into too much detail, the scene involves our heroine Joe, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, and a coat hanger, and that was about all we saw through our hands as we covered our eyes. Calling it controversial may not measure up to much in comparison to the other 5 hours and 45 minutes of explicit weirdness, but this scene was cut from the theatrical release for a reason.

1. Antichrist—Sex From Hell

A couple who mourn the death of their son with a retreat to their cabin in the woods may sound like a quiet, meditative drama, but in the hands of von Trier it is naturally a categorically violent, psychosexual nightmare. This movie hits you with trauma continually from one scene to the next, from being buried alive to foxes eating their own bowels out. The scene that takes the cake however, is one where poor Willem Dafoe has his testicles bludgeoned by his now psychotic wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg again, only for her to attempt to make love to him immediately after. We literally don’t have the stomach to write out what happens next, but it involves bodily fluids. We don’t even have the heart to subject you to the intensity of that scene, so enjoy the clip of the self-mutilating talking fox instead.

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