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The Four Rooms of the Casino von Trier

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What if the disturbed mind of director Lars von Trier decided to design a casino? What would it look and feel like? We claim artistic license in making a few predictions.

Danish film director Lars von Trier is the most controversial maker of major motion pictures today. His films without exception include sadistic violence, and many feature graphic sexuality. The sex tends to be more painful than erotic, however. Despite the uncomfortable sensory overstimulation of his films, he is an artist and not merely a pornographer. We took some time to envision the nightmarish dream world of the Casino von Trier. What could one find there, what would it look like, and most importantly, what would it feel like?

The bar

Part of the reason we go to land-based rather than online casinos in the US
and Europe is to be pampered. We can wine and dine and have a general evening out, not just play card games. Like other casinos, the von Trier will have a bar where players can stop off to catch their breath with a refreshing drink served by a waitress. But be warned, in anything devised by the mind of Lars von Trier, the aim is to shatter social institutions and the perceptions which have been built by them, not make the audience feel relaxed or refreshed.

•Filmmaker Lars von Trier has captivated, disgusted and infuriated audiences with his controversial films and allegedly anti-Semitic statements

•If he designed a casino, we expect it would feature brutal violence, anti-Semitic themes, and anti-erotic casino girls

•You may win money, but you definitely won’t enjoy yourself at the Casino von Trier

Who will be serving the drinks? None other than some of the actresses who have played in the director’s films. There will be Charlotte Gainsbourg, who played the title role in Nymphomaniac, a character which has incomprehensible amounts of sex in the quest for increasingly powerful sensations. You might expect Gainsbourg to be sexually appealing, to serve your drink with a hint of playful eroticism. She won’t, in fact she makes sex feel more painful than pleasurable. After you finish your drink you won’t want to have sex for quite a while.

The poker room

Danish, British and American poker rooms are not only great places for entertainment. There are perfect venues for psychological study. Observing the players, you can see how one puts on a mask while they maneuver through the game. A skilled player wants to present himself as harmless. Then, after they’ve advanced to the late rounds of the games their primal instincts take over and they crush their opponent without remorse. All players are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Several of von Trier’s films, including Antichrist and Dancer in the Dark, expose this side of the human condition. So of course, his casino will feature a poker room where guests are invited to watch the obscured carnage unfold. In a gory twist, the winner will be given the opportunity to show their true nature by physically beating and humiliating the loser (hey, nobody said von Trier was warm and fuzzy).

The hall of slot games

To be completely honest, I don’t think that Lars von Trier is an anti-Semite. But he likes building publicity by making controversial statements. Some of which involve sympathy for Hitler and Nazism, even claiming “I understand Hitler… I sympathize with him a little bit.”

Whether he is an anti-Semite or not, his casino will feature slots with anti-Semitic themes. For example, images of caricatured Jews from Nazi propaganda films, stars of David and even swastikas. When you win a jackpot, the screen will feature the face of Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson begrudgingly handing over the money.

The room of female violence

Von Trier has been accused by many detractors as a misogynist. This piece makes no such claims about him, but admits that the recurring instance of female violence in his films is difficult to ignore. His female characters commit such acts as cruelty to children and genital mutilation against men. In Dancer in the Dark, while the female lead is treated as a victim, she commits a murder in extremely graphic fashion.

The room of female violence at the von Trier casino will feature a macabre form of sports betting: patrons have the opportunity to place wagers on women fighting in cruel hand-to-hand combat. Given that American gambling laws allow placing bets on mixed-martial arts, it isn’t all that far from reality. It will be the last room in the casino, as his films feature brutal violence only in the climax. This is a hallmark of his films: they are not violent until they are violent. Seemingly coming out of nowhere and being exceptionally graphic, this startles the viewer.

Expect to be startled in the final room at the von Trier. You will place bets on two women fighting in cruel combat. Rather than being stylized, the brutality will be painfully real. Weapons will be used. Reflecting the female characters of his films, one will be a victim forced by circumstances to commit an act of unspeakable violence, and the other will be a woman predisposed to cruelty but unable to see herself for what she is.

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