A look back at this day in film history
November 26
Lars Von Trier April 30, 1956
Lars von Trier born

In Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, the author chronicled '70s cinema by looking not so much at the movies as the larger-than-life personas of the directors. His book is full of outrageous anecdotes and apocryphal tales that argue for the concept of the director not as a smoothly efficient manager of the movie set but as a tormented artist. Today, though, there are fewer and fewer of these outsider auteurs in the film business. And when these monster-sized egos emerge, they are often quashed by an industry press that prioritizes cool box-office analysis over a celebration of Dionysian filmmaking abandon. So, then, perhaps Lars von Trier, born April 30, 1956, is one of our last great filmic wild men — even if his transgressive nature is, these days, expressed more through carefully aimed press conference missives and melancholy musings than sturm and drang on the set. When his last film, Antichrist, played Cannes, it won awards for lead actress Charlotte Gainsbourg but also from the fest's "ecumenical jury," which gave it an "anti-award" for alleged misogynist content. At the fest, von Trier, whose films include Breaking the Waves, The Kingdom, and Dancer in the Dark, caused a stir when, after being snapped at by a French PR person when he got up to go the bathroom during his film's credit sequence, left the theater entirely before the lights went up. When asked if he feels grand pronouncements, like his threats to quit the film business, or outrageous acts (like claiming he directed a film naked one day), are necessary to create publicity in today's crowded media landscape, von Trier told Filmmaker magazine, "I don't think they are necessary.... I have a very simple theory about these things. I think that I'm just a very emotional person and I do emotional things like leaving the cinema, like being provoked by this guy in the press conference. Things that I have to defend myself [against]. I do and I say what I feel, and I don't think these are things you can put on as an act. I really don't. I think that you have to judge [behavior like this] by the success of the artists, and if artists do something of quality then it is because they are also sincere in the way they act towards the press. I believe that is so."

More Flashbacks
Casablanca November 26, 1942
Casablanca released

In New York City, stars, including Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, gathered for the premiere of Casablanca.

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November 26, 1993
Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould released

Few knew what to expect from a film called Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould when it opened in New York.

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November 26, 1993
A Life in Fragments

In the same month and year that Jane Campion’s The Piano was released, going on be nominated for 8 Oscars and winning three, a little known filmmaker from Toronto, François Girard, released Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, a bio-pic of sorts about the man that many consider to be one of the world’s greatest pianist. Taking its structure from Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the film mixes short pieces of documentary, animation, narrative (with Colm Feore playing Gould), and performance to throw light on this complex artist. Girard commented that “as Gould was such a complex character, the biggest problem was to find a way to look at his work and deal with his visions. The film is built of fragments, each one trying to capture an aspect of Gould.” The film also helped break open the biopic genre to all sorts of experimentation and transformation, as well as becoming iconic for innovative cinema. In 1996, for example, The Simpsons released their own tribute "22 Short Films About Springfield."

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