Lars von Trier Biography

(Director and Screenwriter Known for His Films: ‘Dancer in the Dark’, ‘Breaking the Waves’ and ‘Europa’)

Birthday: April 30, 1956 (Taurus)

Born In: Lyngby, Denmark

Lars von Trier is a Danish film-maker and screenwriter, known for his dark and intense movies. He has been known to set his own genre in the film industry by focusing on darker and bolder side of stories and characters. Having being given a camera at the age of 11, Trier started his journey of film-making in early 1980s. He studied film-making at National Film School of Denmark and thereafter began directing movies. His movie ‘The Element of Crime’ won him many accolades and awards for screenplay and direction. It also earned him a nomination at Cannes Film Festival for the very first time. With his movie ‘Breaking the Waves’ Trier began to showcase bolder characters and stories. This was in news for its unconventional plot and bold scenes. But, Trier faced trouble when he experimented with the movie ‘Nymphomaniac’. Due to the explicit scenes in the movie, Trier had to make several cuts in it. It is his exceptionally bolder vision that has made the Danish film-maker the eminent director that he is today.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Lars Trier

Age: 67 Years, 67 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Bente Frøge (m. 1997), Cæcilia Holbek Trier (m. 1987–1996)

father: Ulf Trier

mother: Inger Trier

children: Agnes Trier, Benjamin Trier, Ludvig Trier, Selma Trier

Born Country: Denmark

Directors Screenwriters

Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Males

Ancestry: German Danish

Notable Alumni: National Film School Of Denmark

Founder/Co-Founder: Zentropa

More Facts

education: University Of Copenhagen, National Film School Of Denmark

Childhood & Early Life
Lars von Trier was born on 30 April 1956, in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, to Fritz Michael Hartmann and Inger Høst. Later on, his mother married Ulf Triet and Lars adopted the surname of his stepfather. His biological father was the head of Ministry of Social Affairs in Denmark.
The young Trier grew up to be fearless, left-wing, neurotic, and a movie buff. Trier studied film theory and film direction from University of Copenhagen and National School of Denmark, respectively. While studying, he made two short films and won ‘Best School Film Awards’ at Munich International Festival of Film Schools.
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Lars von Trier is known for his exquisitely different style of film-making. He began his journey of directing movies during his college years. But the movie that got him recognition was ‘The Element of Crime’ which was a psychological drama and first in the instalment of ‘Europa’ trilogy.
‘The Element of Crime’ was released in 1984 and helped him won more than 10 awards and a prestigious nomination at the Cannes Film Festival. Later, Trier directed ‘Epidemic’ (1987) and ‘Europa’ (1991), thus completing the Europa trilogy.
Trier along with his producer friend, Peter Aalbaek started a Danish film company, Zentropa Entertainment, in 1992. Apart from Trier’s own movies, the company has also produced movies of other directors as well as several television series.
In 1996, Trier wrote and directed ‘Breaking the Waves’ a story about an unconventional couple who breaks the stereotype of marriage. The plot of the movie revolves around a woman, who is asked by her husband to have intimate relations with other men, when he is left immobilized after an accident.
‘Breaking the Waves’ was his first film in the ‘Golden Heart’ trilogy. The other two movies of the trilogy are ‘The Idiots’ (1998) and ‘Dancer in the Dark’ (2000).
In 2009, Trier made ‘Antichrist’, which was the first of the depression trilogy. Other movies of the trilogy include ‘Melancholia’ (2011) and ‘Nymphomaniac’ (2013). The films were about different characters who suffer from depression and grief. It is believed that the films represented the time Trier himself was going through depression.
In 2011 Lars landed into trouble because of an interview he gave to a journalist. When ‘Melancholia’ was premiered at Cannes, a journalist questioned him about his German roots. Since Trier had recently discovered that his father wasn’t a Jew, he jokingly commented that he sympathized with Hitler. This caused a stir in the media and festival decided to ban him for one year. After constant apologies from the director and also his actors the festival lifted the ban and his films were welcomed once again.
In December 2013, Trier made a four-hour film ‘Nymphomaniac,’ which was deemed as a poor adult film. The film was originally a five-and-a-half-hour film but due to its explicit content it was cut short to four hour. The movie was made into two volumes in Britain and Australia and was released. An uncensored version of the first volume was premiered at Berlin Film Festival in 2014.
Currently, Lars von Trier is working on a movie ‘The House That Jack Build’. The movie is about a serial killer and portrays the murderer’s point of view.
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Major Works
Lars von Trier is known for his every single movie which has broken all the stereotypes and won him many awards. But with ‘Breaking the Wave’ he presented an unusual story to the world. The movie gave a strong message to its audience about the number of sorrows and sacrifices one has to endure in love. ‘Breaking The Wave’ is considered to be the most acclaimed film of Lars von Trier. The film won him more than 20 awards and it collected $4 million at box office in US.
Awards & Achievements
Trier's movie 'Europa' won the Prix du Jury at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1996, 'Breaking the Waves' won the Crtics Award at European Film Awards. The movie also won the Cesar Award for Best Foreign Film, in 1997.
In 2000, his film 'Dancer in The Dark' won the Palme d'Or at Cannes.
In 2011, 'Melancholia' won the Best Film award at European Film Awards.
Apart from this, the list of his awards is long which includes several international awards and also seven Academy Award nominations.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1989, on her deathbed, Trier’s mother revealed to her son that his biological father was Fritz Michael Hartmann who was German-speaking, Roman Catholic. Till then Trier considered Ulf Trier to be his real father.
Trier had been married twice. His first marriage was to Cæcilia Holbek from 1987 to 1995 and his second marriage was to Bente Frøge from 1997 to 2015. Both the marriages ended in a divorce. He has four children, namely, Benjamin Trier, Ludvig Trier, Selma Trier and Agnes Trier.
Like many artists, Lars von Trier too suffers from depression due to which he finds it difficult to focus on his work.

Trier added ‘von’ to his name because his peers at film school used to call him so.
He has never been to US and hates travelling.
Lars von Trier has so many phobias due to which he avoids attending film festivals too.
Steven Spielberg offered him a film to direct but Trier turned down the script.

Lars Von Trier Movies

1. Dogville (2003)

  (Crime, Drama)

2. Dancer in the Dark (2000)

  (Musical, Drama, Crime)

3. Breaking the Waves (1996)


4. Europa (1991)

  (Drama, Thriller)

5. A Royal Affair (2012)

  (Drama, History, Biography, Romance)

6. The Five Obstructions (2003)


7. Manderlay (2005)


8. The Element of Crime (1984)

  (Drama, Thriller, Crime)

9. Melancholia (2011)


10. Italian for Beginners (2000)

  (Romance, Comedy, Drama)

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