How to do you create one of the most talked about films of the past decade?
Take one notorious director, mix with an all-star cast, add in a healthy dose of explicit sex scenes and stir together with more controversy than you could poke a stick at.
We are of course referring to Lars Von Trier’s epic Nymphomaniac, which will be heating up television screens across Australia as it premieres at 9.30pm Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 December as part of WM Summer of Sin.
Before these two sizzling nights of film kick off, we’ve pulled together a Nymphomaniac Cheat Sheet featuring everything you wanted to know about this salacious masterpiece, but were too afraid to ask.
The film is split into eight chapters – five in Volume I and three in Volume II, and the story remains very close to the overview given by producers at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012:
“Nymphomaniac is the light and poetic story of a woman’s erotic journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe. On a cold winter’s evening Seligman, an old bachelor, finds Joe semi-unconscious and beaten up in an alleyway. After bringing her to his flat he sees to her wounds while trying to understand how things could have gone so wrong for her. He listens intently as she over the next eight chapters recounts the lushly branched-out and multifaceted story of her life, rich in associations and interjecting.‚Äù
This five hour, two-part epic features a stellar cast in both major and minor roles:
– Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe (ages 35-50)
– Stacy Martin as young Joe (ages 15-31)
– Stellan Skarsgård as Seligman
– Shia LaBeouf as Jer√¥me Morris
– Christian Slater as Joe’s father
– Uma Thurman as Mrs. H
– Sophie Kennedy Clark as B
– Connie Nielsen as Katherine (Joe’s mother)
– Jamie Bell as K
– Willem Dafoe as L
– Mia Goth as P
– Udo Kier as The Waiter
When one thinks of Lars Von Trier, one thinks of controversy – and the hype surrounding the Director’s highly anticipated final installment in his ‚ÄòDepression’ trilogy was certainly no exception to the rule. Here’s a look at a few controversial Nymphomaniac moments:
– In August 2012, Shia LaBeouf revealed during an MTV interview that he had become nervous about what he had gotten himself into after signing on to Nymphomaniac as the sex scenes may be unsimulated. “For instance, there’s a disclaimer at the top of the script that basically says we’re doing it for real,” he said. “Everything that is illegal, we’ll shoot in blurred images. Other than that, everything is happening.” Producers later confirm that this was not the case.
– A series of provocative posts for the film are released in October 2013, depicting fourteen of the film’s characters mid orgasm.
– When asked about the film’s sex scenes by a reporter at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival Shia LaBeouf responds, “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.” Refusing to participate in any further press conferences, LaBeouf later appears on the red carpet wearing a paper bag over his head that reads “I am not famous anymore.”
– Lars Von Trier attends the screening of the film at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival wearing a t-shirt that reads “Persona non grata‚Äù. The shirt is a reference to the label given to him by Cannes Film Festival organizers after the director expressed sympathy for Hitler and referred to himself as a Nazi during a 2011 press conference.
THOSE SCENES – WERE THEY REAL?
Whilst rumours swirled in the lead up to production that the actors would need to participate in un-simulated sex, Nymphomaniac producer Louise Vesth confirmed that although many graphic sex scenes occurred between the members of the all-star cast, body doubles were used for these elements of the film. ‚ÄúWe shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles, who really did have sex, and in post we will digital-impose the two,‚Äù Vesth explained. ‚ÄúSo above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles.‚Äù
BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Subversive feminist statement? Wes Anderson Parody? For some fascinating theories on how the story can be interpreted, check out Flavorwire’s 8 Ways of Looking at Lars von Trier’s ‚ÄòNymphomaniac: Volume 1′.
WHAT SHOULD I BE KEEPING MY EYE OUT FOR?
From the cast’s bizarre Scandinavian accents, to Jamie Bell armed with a riding crop and a notorious threesome scene, check out Nine unforgettable things about Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac.