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Willow

Lars von Trier  (Director - 'Dogville') Lars von Trier (Director - 'Dogville')
'Let The Dog Days Begin'

After 'Dancer In The Dark' completed his Golden Hearts trilogy, the experimental Danish director, Lars von Trier, now undertakes a new series of films tackling the skewed morality of The American Way. 'Dogville', starring Nicole Kidman and Paul Bettany, is the first of these, shot in Sweden on a single stage with no set and minimal props.

Was it easy for the cast to grasp this 70s TV theatre concept - buildings made from chalk outlines, with no doors and walls? "This is the type of stuff they would have done at acting school - living in a house that is only marked on the floor is something they've all done. In the film, on some of the doors the handle seemed to move, and doors were being opened in people's faces. I did not care so much about that, although maybe that should have been taken more seriously. I remember Paul [Bettany] getting really mad and shouting at someone: "You stepped through the wall, you idiot!"

Was having Nicole Kidman - a big Hollywood star - a conscious choice in terms of helping the audience bridge the gap and accept the concept? "I don't think she is a big advantage to this film. I don't think her typical audience will go and see this. It's too much of a crossover, but Nic wanted to do the film very much. She had to, because she didn't get paid very much. I felt she was a bridge to America in some sense. Even though she is not American, she lives there and has a career there."

Again, we have a female protagonist suffering extreme humiliation, and playing the martyr; Why the persistence with this storyline? "I think I have a very limited range of characters and stories. I'm just doing it in different ways. I hate verités, because I need a little more flesh and blood. I start with something that you would call a verité, then I try somehow to defend it by putting on a style."

Do these characters - like you've said about characters in your previous films - show facets of your own personality? "Yes. I see Grace [Nicole Kidman] and Tom [Paul Bettany] as being two parts of me. If it's a self-portrait, then it's not a very nice one. I don't sympathise very much with either character, but it's true."

And what about the boy who blackmails Grace into spanking him. Is that you?! "I'm very sorry that you found me out! Yes, but not all the time. Sometimes I want to spank also! The whole thing about this S&M thing is that you don't really know who's the slave, and who's the master. It's a tricky question. But yes, oh, yes - especially by Nicole. Who wouldn't?!"

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