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June 29, 2013

Clips from 'Nymphomaniac' Slowly Disrobe Mystery of Von Trier's New Genre: Digressionism

NymphomaniacLars von Trier's Antichrist made me sit on my stoop and stare blankly at the concrete until the evening sun dipped below the horizon. And years later, as I sat in my local indie theater watching Melancholia, the final scene nearly gave me a panic attack. Needless to say -- I'm anxiously awaiting the currently undetermined American release of von Trier's latest film Nymphomaniac. But with its Christmas release in Denmark slowly approaching, the marketing tactic of releasing short clips from each chapter of the film is not only an incredible tease to the senses, making it all the more desirable, but they also wink at the vague explanation von Trier gave of his new film genre that he employs in this sexual drama -- Digressionism.

I never guessed it'd be necessary to do anything to market this film, other than tell people what its title is. You'd think a film called 'Nymphomaniac' would kind of sell itself. Not only that, but the film's website with the phrase "Forget About Love" etched above a pair of yonic parentheses. But, the creators of the film decided to titillate  their audience with an interesting marketing plan, described here in the press release. Thanks to FirstShowing for putting this up:

Using a structure known from literature Nymphomaniac consists of chapters, encapsulating both VOLUME I and VOLUME II and during the next eight months, starting from June and like domino pieces counting down to the release, small bites of these chapters will be published exclusively by a community of selected newspapers around the world.

The film showcases a bunch of stars: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellen Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Willem Dafoe, Uma Thurman, and Christian Slater, centering around Joe (Gainsbourg), a self-confessed nymphomaniac as she looks back on a lifetime of sexual exploits. The clip of the first chapter, "The Compleat Angler", was released on the 28th, as well as a description of the scene:

How does an ordinary bag of chocolate sweets become a symbol of sexual victory? As Joe and her experienced friend B embark on a train trip, they bet on how many men they can seduce on the ride. The grand prize is a delicious bag of chocolate sweets, and it soon becomes clear to Joe that in order to win, she needs to lure the prey into biting the hook like a skilled fisherman.

Watch the first clip below:

The press release for the film also mentioned this new genre that von Trier aims to introduce in Nymphomaniac.

Each chapter teaser is defined by a headline, a still and a short narrative that playfully unveils the multilayered universe of Nymphomaniac with which Lars von Trier wants to introduce a new film genre: Digressionism.

[Digress /dɪˈgrɛs, daɪ-/ verb: Depart from the main subject]

Without seeing the film or knowing much about its plot, we can realistically only speculate what the full idea of von Trier's digressionism is. "Depart from the main subject" could mean any number of things -- my guess is that it has something to do with the narrative. Do protagonists come and go throughout it? Will Joe even see us through the whole story? Will multiple subplots be piled on top of the main plot until it just -- falls away? Will the film even be about nymphomania by the end?

Here is the list of chapters and this promotional tableau vivant of the cast on the set of Nymphomania (click to enlarge). Maybe they will help you determine what von Trier's "digressionism" is?

Nymphomaniac image

Chapter 1 is The Compleat Angler
Chapter 2 is Jerome
Chapter 3 is Mrs. H
Chapter 4 is Delirium
Chapter 5 is The Little Organ School
Chapter 6 is The Eastern & Western Church (The Silent Duck)
Chapter 7 is The Mirror
Chapter 8 is The Gun

What do you make of all of this? Let us know what you think about Nymphomaniac, its marketing tactic, and von Trier's new genre, "digressionism", in the comments.

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14 Comments

Lars Von Trier, God(ard) bless him, is a marketing genius. He made a big deal about making a film entirely with an automatic crane that choose its own framings "The Boss of it All" a few years back. He keeps experimenting with a whole bunch of things to get attention, but I think most of his later work has been very good so I don't mind.

June 29, 2013

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Nice to see Lars Von Trier's Porn is elegantly spilling over into his mainstream films :-)

He has a tendency to go for the easy sell. Look at most of his films. You want the audience to feel empathy for the character so you take a venerable woman and just unleash hell on her for most of the film. This has been the formula for a ton of his work. Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark... the list goes on.

I like it when Lars is working outside of this masochistic comfort zone. Check out "The Kingdom" which was a Danish TV series he did back in the mid 2000's. Very Good!

June 29, 2013

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"He has a tendency to go for the easy sell."? Really? I'm used to people looking down on Von Trier (mostly americans I guess, probably due to his critique of the country and its culture in much of his work), although he's one of the most important and influential directors alive, calling anything he does "an easy sell"? Original, innovating and interesting, does words are much more Von Trier than "an easy sell", imo.

June 30, 2013

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really?

When you try to peddle run of mill America bashing (Dogwood) as an avante garde exercise, people tend to see through it.

June 30, 2013

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moebius22

This may be the most marketable Von Trier film ever. Hopefully, it won't be a gross out fest like Antichrist.

June 29, 2013

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moebius22

I just hope the film takes full advantage of Uma Thurman.

June 29, 2013

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John B.

literally

June 29, 2013

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thadon calico

The film seems to center around his muse, Charlotte Gainsbourg, which is fine with me as she is a wonderful actress.

June 29, 2013

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Markus Arike

The Dogma movement was in a sense an exercise in the essentials of film, and was rooted in negation (i.e. things not to do). Perhaps as a means to stay free and clear of the smog that many formulaic studio films are often mired in.
The post Dogma stuff is more about adding and shifting techniques in order to transcend formulas (i.e. how can I approach this in a truly different way) in order to reach a stories essence. I think that breaking out of the formulaic involves coming up with new ways to get people interested in the ideas explored and expressed in a film.

I don't love everything that Lars Von Trier does, but I really appreciate his quest for other forms (and I find a lot of his ideas reach me with an understated power).
For me he is a filmmaker who is always poking into and piercing other realms of story and communication.

I don't consider him a clever filmmaker or marketeer . . . but rather someone who is not afraid to experiment.

In a way, he approaches film the way Brecht approached Theatre.

June 29, 2013

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Granville

Dogme 95 inspired me so much in college that I routinely practice what von Trier and Vinteberg intended with the "Vow of Chastity" -- limiting your art in order to make it limitless.

June 29, 2013

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director
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Lars is totally insane, I love it.

June 30, 2013

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Natt

It's a neat approach. People's brains will make associations with any random series of things presented to them. Having a theme and then diverting from it should work well as the audience will make anything fit the theme.
I look forward to seeing it all.

I'm disappointed though that it's not in Danish. Aren't there enough films in English already?

July 1, 2013

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Clark Nikolai

Not meaning to poke holes but you kept calling it 'The Complete Angler', whereas it's actually 'The Compleat Angler', which isn't a spelling mistake made over and over on the website etc. but a separate word.

Anyway, besides all of the other ingenius work Von Trier has come out with, Melancholia was a film that for me created a juxtaposition of small family drama and universal destruction which affected me more than almost any film I've seen. Like you I also approached a panic attack in the cinema! So I'm excited for this.

Brilliant marketing strategy.

July 1, 2013

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Alex

Meh.. Complete garbage. NONE of the celebs in the movie are actually having sex, they're going to super-impose body doubles digitally

December 15, 2013

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d anderson