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ReFocus: The Films of Susanne Bier$
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Missy Molloy, Mimi Nielsen, and Meryl Shriver-Rice

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474428729

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428729.001.0001

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Judaism and Danish Directors: The Case of Lars von Trier vs. Susanne Bier

Judaism and Danish Directors: The Case of Lars von Trier vs. Susanne Bier

(p.113) Chapter 6 Judaism and Danish Directors: The Case of Lars von Trier vs. Susanne Bier
ReFocus: The Films of Susanne Bier

Pétur Valsson

Edinburgh University Press

“The Case of Lars von Trier vs. Susanne Bier” focuses on the public conflict between Denmark’s leading international film directors, which has developed almost entirely through von Trier’s defamation of Bier in widely published anti-Semitic statements. In this chapter, Pétur Valsson outlines the history of von Trier’s and Bier’s relationship, which includes personal and professional ties that illustrate the closely knit nature of the Danish film industry. Valsson then questions the role of Jewish identity in each director’s work and professional persona, concluding that Bier’s more direct experience of Jewish culture contrasts with von Trier’s fetishization of Jewishness, which was shattered by his late-in-life discovery that his biological father was not Jewish as he had thought. Valsson suggests that the simultaneity of Bier’s career ascendance and von Trier’s discovery of mistaken identity unfortunately resulted in von Trier’s very public misogynist and anti-Semitic comments, to which Bier refused to respond, characterizing them as ridiculous.

Keywords:   Susanne Bier, Danish cinema, Lars von Trier, Jewish film directors, anti-semitism

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