Lars von Trier’s Nymph()maniac: Polyphonic Anatomy of a Cruel Film

Elena del Río


Sexual experimentation in Lars von Trier’s Nymph()maniac functions as a vehicle for a devastating critique of moral and conscious man. This critique is enabled via the integration of two models of Nature: Spinoza’s vital reserve of affects (a vision woven around the film’s analogy between trees and human souls), and Artaud’s idea of Nature as cruelty (a debt that is immanent to life before it is sadistically levied on our bodies by others). This essay focuses on the film’s unresolved tension between a seemingly affirmative model of Nature and a much darker vision of cruelty.


Spinoza; Artaud; affects; passions: cruelty

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Online Magazine of the Visual Narrative - ISSN 1780-678X