If you have a level of success with something, you get carried away with it. You find out that the only reason why you read your newspaper is to see if your name is in it. Come on! That’s ridiculous and a waste of life!
Did you get to that stage?
Oh… You have a tendency… and I think you have to try to prevent it. I had to kind of go back to the idea of film and see what I wanted to do with it, instead of living up to a lot of expectations – especially financial ones – to make bigger and bigger films.
Did making a comedy, The Boss Of It, revitalise you?
Not really! Actually just after this, I had a depression for the first time in my life. I don’t know why… [pauses] Just screwed up. I am feeling better now but still it takes some time to get over.
With the Dogme rules and Dogville’s chalk ‘sets’, you always seem to create ‘obstructions’ for yourself. Why make it harder?
When you make films, you know how you will deal with things. Obstructions have very much to do with avoiding these areas. To move the focus away from all the things that you know how to do far too well into other areas.
Will you ever made a film with no obstructions?
That would really be a challenge! I would cry. What shall I do? Just make the film…
What is your obstruction for The Boss Of It All?
We call it Automavision. I was a little tired of the handheld camera, so we got this idea with this computer. I put up the camera where I wanted. Then the computer would move it from that point and decide on the angle.
You’re a self-confessed control freak. Did it feel good to let go?
Beautiful. That was the whole idea: that I shouldn’t care. I think that maybe only 10 percent of the audience will notice that 80 percent of the images are slightly strangely framed. I like that.
Are you still fascinated by technology?
No! But I think it’s interesting to use these new technologies differently. To only use a computer to paint a lot of mountains and a million warriors, it’s no fun. Of course they should use it, but more originally. Let’s see the next step!
What is the next step for cinema?
Thank God, it’s impossible to say. It is really young. I’m happy that I will not be around.
You just turned 50. Surely you’re only half way through your career?
Ah, you think so? That is painful to say. Let’s take one film at a time.
Do you see many new films these days?
When I was young I saw three films a day. But now, not many. I see stupid films that are on television, because my wife like to see them. All kinds of new American films… Sleepless In Seattle or whatever.
That’s one of the old ones! It was made 20 years ago…
Are they old ones? They’re new ones! They were done in the last 30 years! Okay, I saw Magnolia. That was very good.
Would ever work with Tom Cruise?
I sure he could probably have a word with his ex-wife! So… I don’t know. He was very good in Magnolia. Scientology is very strange to me. I thought it was religious but it’s not religious. Something about spacemen.
What you seen anything else lately?
“I saw The Piano Teacher. Fantastic. I really loved it. And I wrote Haneke a letter saying that I was a fan. But of course, all the letters I have written to people have never been answered. I don’t know how many I have written – nobody answers, for Christ’s sake. I don’t think that’s very polite.
Who else had you written to?
Polanski and to Bergman, lots of times. And now they say he’s dead. That’s just a bad excuse. He’s probably an asshole too. I’m better off. He could have written back saying thank you very much, I hate your stuff!
Haneke just remade one of his own films in Hollywood. Would you tackle that obstruction?
No, I think that would be very difficult. I would be in doubt. That’s like God recreating the world. That’s fantastic – let’s do it again! Maybe God is so sure of himself. If he’s almighty, he has to be 100 percent right. We just can’t see it.
Is the The Boss Of It All a sort of God metaphor?
I hadn’t thought of it that way… I’m a very poor Catholic. I’m going to hell.
Maybe you’ll see Bergman and Haneke there…
Yeah, I hope so! And I will ask him, ‘Has it been bad down here?’ ‘No, no, it’s to be expected. Who the fuck are you? Write me if you want to say anything!’
That would be an obstruction…
Yeah, direct your next film from hell!
Where are you directing your next film?
Germany. It’s called Antichrist – it’s a good title. I would call it a horror film. We’ll see how perverted it gets. It’s easy to do a perverted script but its difficult to do a perverted film.
Do you have a new obstruction?
Yes I have, but I’m not saying anything. You want a tease? There’s a deer up there [points at a picture on the wall] and it’s not an eel coming out of its anus. That’s the clue. It’s not an eel… You will see in the film! It’s an alien! It’s John Hurt!
Publication: Total Film.