Danish director Lars von Trier has said he regrets the “foolish” Hitler comments he made at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
In an interview published in the forthcoming August edition of movie publication Empire Magazine, von Trier said: “I’ve learned I should not go to big press conferences because when these things come out of my mouth, especially with this stupid, stupid Danish humor, not everybody understands it. I regret that I was so foolish.”
Von Trier had said in a press conference at the festival for his film Melancholia, “I understand Hitler. He did some wrong things, absolutely, but I can see him sitting there in his bunker at the end… I sympathize with him, yes, a little bit.”
In his comments to the magazine, von Trier explained, “I felt good, I felt at home, but I was in front of the world.
“I believe there is a little bit of Nazi in all of us, and there is also a little bit of a human being in Hitler. I think if you deny that, then I think it’s dangerous.”
He also sought to clarify his comments about Israel, which he had described as “a pain in the arse” at Cannes.
“I don’t think Israel is a pain in the arse,” he said, adding that he simply disagrees with its foreign policy, as he suspects many Israelis do.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, reacted to Von Trier’s statements with mixed feelings.
“While we are happy to hear that von Trier regrets what he said at Cannes, I am uncertain that his clarifications during the interview display a complete understanding of the ramifications of his original comments,” Kantor said. “It has become too acceptable and even fashionable within certain elements of the entertainment industry to make inappropriate or hateful comments about Jews or Israel.”
Kantor said von Trier’s comments are just the latest in a long line of anti-Semitic comments and statements made by politicians, officials and members of the entertainment industry.
“We don’t want any more clarifications, excuses, regret or apologies; we demand a complete halt to ‘respectable anti- Semitism.’”