Nymphomaniac 2

Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac does not open in North American theatres until early 2014 and yet I am already starting to feel slightly exhausted by all the coverage. Amidst all of the “O-Face” posters, risqué trailers, and the overtly sexual stills being released, rarely has a day gone by without something Nymphomaniac related popping up into my social media feeds. One would think that, as a fan of von Trier’s works, I would revel in the endless discussion that has been occurring online. However, I cannot shake the notion that all the coverage the film is receiving will only have a negative impact on how we perceive the actual product.

Hey I get it, sex sells. We cannot get enough of it in our lives nor can we stop talking about it. Sex is used to promote everything from packs of gum to football games to life insurance. While we seem happy to exist in society where magazines like Maxim and Cosmopolitan can be sold on the same newsstand as Archie Comics, we still have not figured out how to deal with sexuality in movies.

Sexuality is still considered more damaging to see on screen than acts of gratuitous violence. Heaven forbid if images of healthy female sexuality happens to potentially cross youthful eyes. Thank goodness films like A Good Day to Die Hard and Olympus Has Fallen are around to shield us from the horrors of the nude female form. Think I am exaggerating? Just look at how the sex scenes in Blue is the Warmest Color have dominated most conversations about the film. The overall growth that the characters go through is barely touched on. Those living in Toronto will even recall a time when Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl was briefly banned in the city for its depiction of youthful female sexuality. While we would like to think that this was back in the stone ages, the truth is the ban occurred a mere two years after American Pie gleefully played in every major theatre.

Nymphomaniac will officially debut in Denmark on Christmas Day, but it has already become a hot topic in various rumour mills. Reports from advance screenings have alleged that audiences have been left stunned by the unprecedented amount of graphic sexuality depicted in the film. Several sites have even called it a “bad porn movie”. These initial reactions seem to fit with the intended tone of the film as Lars von Trier himself has openly stated that one of his goals was to make the sex so unflinching that audiences would ultimately become desensitized to it.

Showgirls

The large amount of coverage Nymphomaniac has received is very reminiscent of the mid-90s when Exit to Eden, Showgirls and Striptease were released in 1994, 1995 and 1996 respectively. Each film received a lot of hype based solely on the discussion of “how racy will it be?” The buzz reached a level where it quickly became apparent that there would be no way that the films could live up to expectation. As a result critics and audiences, at least the few that actually went, were practically salivating to rip the films apart. Granted those films, with the exception of Showgirls, did not have a director of von Trier’s caliber. Still, Nymphomaniac seems to be following that same trajectory.

For all the analysis of the stills and clips releases, it still remains to be seen if people will actually go and see the film. Though I am a fan of his work, I am fully aware that von Trier is not everyone’s taste. Sure there will no doubt be some who simply go to the film to see the sex scenes but that group is not large enough to make the film a hit. Part of what annoys me about the incessant coverage of Nymphomaniac is that it slowly takes away the mystery of the film. At the end of the day there still needs to be a sense of discovery and excitement to the film.

While I am an eagerly anticipating the release Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, I am longing for the day when the discussion and coverage turns more towards the various themes within the work. As it stands, the daily updates and “not safe for work” exclusive stills are becoming increasingly exhausting.

9 Comments

      1. Probably. I’ve always been a Von Trier fan. There was a time I would have listed him my favorite director (that has probably since changed, but he might still make the top ten).

        I’m deliberately trying to stay away from all press related to this film, mostly so I don’t get over-saturated before its release and lose all interest.

  1. Totally agree with you. I get that it’s Lars von Trier! I get that it’s NC-17! And most of all, I get that it’s going to be split into two parts! Thanks, now relax!

    1. Like I said, I am eager to see the film. Heck, I would sit through the five hour version in one sitting if it was an option. However, the constant coverage is slowly reaching Snakes on a Plane level of absurdity.

  2. I know what Lars is trying to do in order to sell the film although I hope that he creates something that is a great film. I hope to see both parts in a special screening.

    1. I understand Lars has to sell the film, so the studio marketing is justifiable. The daily external publicity/coverage outside of that, from many well respected film sites, is what is bothering me the most. There is nothing worse than knowing every aspect of a film prior to watching it.

  3. I don’t understand everyone shouting how shocking, disgusting etc. this movie will be. Its Lars Von Trier – if it were any other director I would have understood all the fuss, but after Trier’s ‘Anti-Christ’ I thought everyone would just calm down, and concentrate on the film’s inner plot and merit. I am looking forward to watching this, good article.

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