[[quoteright:309:[[Film/{{Nymphomaniac}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lars_hates_you_3130.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:309:[[SarcasmMode A friendly gentleman, that Lars.]]]]

->''"Welcome to the universe of Lars von Trier, where babies falling out of windows is the LEAST of your problems!"''
-->-- ''WebVideo/BrowsHeldHigh'' on ''Film/{{Antichrist}}''.

Lars von Trier (born Lars Trier, April 30, 1956) is a Danish avant-garde writer-director. A notorious proponent of {{Melodrama}}, his works are often considered to be heavily on the cynical side of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, often to the point of nihilism. His films are often considered to have emotional pain and depression as their central themes, and just as often portray [[HobbesWasRight humankind as inherently evil creatures]] that are more than happy to exploit, torment and ultimately destroy the few kind and selfless individuals in the world. [[NeverLiveItDown Do bear in mind that this is the popular stereotype of his work]], and in fact his films have taken a variety of approaches, though a focus on [[TrueArtIsAngsty Angst]] is frequently present.

As a director, von Trier is well-known for his extensive use of BlackComedy, his weird ability to make [[EnforcedMethodActing actors perform way beyond]] [[DyeingForYourArt their personal boundaries]], and being one of the writers of the UsefulNotes/{{Dogme 95}} Manifesto. He also has a tendency to group his films into Trilogies involving similar themes.

The "[[TheVonTropeFamily von]]" in his name does not come from German nobility, but is in fact an in-jokish nickname von Trier had amongst his fellow students in film school. He ultimately decided to keep the nickname to pay homage to Creator/ErichVonStroheim and Creator/JosefVonSternberg, who also added their "von" later in life.

His more shocking work is sometimes classified as {{Euroshlock}}.
!!Lars von Trier's works include:
* The "Europa" Trilogy:
** ''Film/TheElementOfCrime''
** ''Epidemic''
** ''Europa''
* The "Golden Hearts" Trilogy:
** ''Film/BreakingTheWaves''
** ''Film/TheIdiots''
** ''Film/DancerInTheDark''
* The "USA, Land of Opportunity" Trilogy (Unfinished):
** ''Film/{{Dogville}}''
** ''Film/{{Manderlay}}''
** ''Wasington'' [sic] (Planned)
* The "Depression" Trilogy:
** ''Film/{{Antichrist}}''
** ''Film/{{Melancholia}}''
** ''Film/{{Nymphomaniac}}''
* [[invoked]] [[HeAlsoDid And Also]]:
** ''Series/{{Riget}}''
** ''Medea''
** ''The Boss Of It All''
** ''The House That Jack Built''

!!The Works of Lars von Trier Have Provided Examples of:
* BreakTheCutie: Lars' SignatureStyle.
* CompellingVoice: Used in ''The Element of Crime'' by an unnamed Hypnotist on the protagonist, [[HowWeGotHere who proceeds to relate the story]]. In ''Europa'', it's by TheNarrator Creator/MaxVonSydow… and is used to [[MassHypnosis hypnotize the audience]].
* ControlFreak: Every actor he's ever worked with has characterized von Trier as this. Some (Creator/StellanSkarsgard, Creator/WillemDafoe, Creator/CharlotteGainsbourg) [[TeethClenchedTeamwork seem to tolerate this enough to work with him again]], while others (Music/{{Bjork}}, Creator/NicoleKidman, Creator/JamesCaan) [[WeUsedToBeFriends do not]]. Then there are some (Jean-Marc Barr, Creator/JohnHurt, Udo Kier) who admires him enough to become part of his ProductionPosse, despite this trope.
* CrapsackWorld: The top quote should illustrate what kind of worlds von Trier creates.
* {{Deconstruction}}: The ''Europa Trilogy'' is a deconstruction of Idealism.
** Lampshaded in ''Epidemic'', where Lars von Trier's AuthorAvatar [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall explains the story of the film he's working on]] which mirrors the films plot.
** This continues in ''Film/DancerInTheDark'', which deconstructs Hollywood Musicals and the medium of film itself as means of escapism. And ''Film/{{Manderlay}}'', which specifically deconstructs the Main/WhiteMansBurden trope.
* DeusAngstMachina: [[CreatorThumbprint All]] [[SignatureStyle the]] [[TrueArtIsAngsty time.]]
* UsefulNotes/{{Dogme 95}}: Co-founder and author of the [[http://pov.imv.au.dk/Issue_10/section_1/artc1A.html Dogme 95 Manifesto and "Vow of Chastity"]] along with fellow Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg. Vinterberg directed the first Dogme film -- Dogme #1 -- ''Film/TheCelebration'', while von Trier directed Dogme #2, ''Film/TheIdiots''.
* DownerEnding: Very common in his movies. It would be easier to list the movies of his that don't have these, though when they don't, they tend to be a ''very'' [[BittersweetEnding bittersweet]] variation of EarnYourHappyEnding.
* DysfunctionJunction: Every one of his movies ever.
** Bizarrely, von Trier is the product of a RealLife example, as well. He was born to a pair of Communist Nudist parents -- [[SincerityMode you read that right]] -- and was raised in an environment where "Everything was permitted, except for Religion, Feelings, or Enjoyment," to use the man's words. The lack of rules his parents set for him caused him to go strongly in the opposite direction, sowing the seeds for the ControlFreak he grew up to be. In addition, his Father used to routinely condemn "Golden Hearts" like Jesus Christ, eventually causing him to embrace Christianity in an act of rebellion (this also inspired the title of his second Trilogy, all of which involve self-sacrificting heroines). It's been said that Lars is one of the few filmmakers with a backstory as singular as his films.
* {{Eagleland}}: A pretty strident Type #2. Negative reactions to his depiction of America in ''Film/DancerInTheDark'' inspired him to do a film that was EVEN MORE critical of America, ''Film/{{Dogville}}'', the first part of his "USA, Land of Opportunity" Trilogy. However, von Trier himself has stated in interviews he did not intend Dancer in the Dark to be a criticism of America.
** And he's adamant about the fact that he'll never visit the USA, due to his fear of flying.
** He has ''cynically'' stated that his latest film, ''The House That Jack Built'', will be an allusion to the rise of Creator/DonaldTrump.
* LeFilmArtistique: Lars nearly always has a strong Narrative, and he tends to go lighter on the [[{{Surrealism}} more]] [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible esoteric]] stereotypes of this trope, but he gets enough mileage out of the CameraTricks, [[TrueArtIsAngsty maudlin subject matter]] and [[RefugeInAudacity controversy]] associated with the trope for three directors.
* FilmNoir: His work shows a strong influence from the genre, especially his early films. Of course his interpretation of the genre flirts with {{Main/Deconstruction}}.
** For example: ''The Element of Crime'' deconstructs the FemmeFatale.
* {{Flanderization}}: Over the course of his career, his plots have become [[{{Minimalism}} simpler]], the content of the stories [[DarkerAndEdgier harsher]], and his characters [[HumansAreBastards meaner]] [[UpToEleven and meaner]].
* '''HobbesWasRight[=/=]HumansAreBastards''': '''''NO SHIT'''''.
* InsaneTrollLogic[=/=]AllGermansAreNazis: Apparently, the reason why he can't be a Jew (despite really wanting to) and instead being a Nazi was solely because he was German.
* InWhichATropeIsDescribed: "The film ''Film/{{Dogville}}'' as told in nine chapters and a Prologue."
* JitterCam: More like "Hand-held camera work". Omnipresent throughout his work, and a great example of TropesAreNotBad.
* {{Melodrama}}: Part of his SignatureStyle. Has less to do with SoapOpera as with the works of Erich von Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg, both of whom inspired him to add the "[[TheVonTropeFamily von]]" to his surname.
* {{Minimalism}}: Beginning with ''Breaking the Waves'', von Trier began a process of paring his films down to their essentials. ''The Idiots'' and aforementioned ''Breaking the Waves'' began by eschewing SpecialEffects and slick photography and focusing on character and story instead. ''Dancer in the Dark'' continued the trend, while streamlining characterization and plotting to a level of simplicity reminiscent of the [[UsefulNotes/TheSilentAgeOfHollywood Silent Era]]. ''Dogville'' and ''Manderlay'' eliminated sets and most props, filming everything on a large soundstage with buildings marked by lines of chalk. And finally ''Antichrist'' brought it all down to only two actors engaged in a series of Mind Games, though it did make use of some CGI. ''Melancholia'' and ''Nymphomaniac'' bring things back to a level of sophistication not seen since ''Breaking the Waves'', though the characters are still as broadly drawn as they've been since ''Dancer in the Dark''. [[{{Jerkass}} And almost]] [[DysfunctionJunction uniformly unpleasant.]]
* OddballInTheSeries: ''The Boss of It All'' is a ''straightforward Workplace Comedy'' starring frequent collaborator Jens Albinus. Supposedly made at the outset of his depression as an attempt to regain his enthusiasm for filmmaking.
* StageNames: His birth name is the rather more generic "Lars Trier".
* SupernaturalFiction: Appears both overtly (''Riget'') and subtly (''Breaking the Waves'', ''Melancholia'') throughout his work, and often overlaps with MagicRealism. His only films to date to have no Supernatural or Paranormal elements whatsoever are ''The Idiots'', ''Dancer in the Dark'', ''Dogville'' and ''Manderlay''.
* TransAtlanticEquivalent: Odd as the comparison may sound, Lars is this to Creator/JossWhedon. Both are visually distinctive Writer-Directors with an ear for dialogue and an ability with actors. Both have worked in the mediums of both Television and Film. And, most importantly, both are ''great big'' believers in [[TrueArtIsAngsty Angst for Angst's Sake]], in addition to being {{Trolling Creator}}s that like to rub their fans' noses in all the misery.
** It goes farther than that; both are quite fond of putting a [[AlwaysFemale Female Protagonist]] through [[BreakTheCutie unbelievable hardships]] that [[DeusAngstMachina never seem to end]]. They differ in that Whedon's are always WaifFu and von Trier's are always TheIngenue, but the principle is the same.
** He also shares with Creator/TheCoenBrothers the tendency to pit [[IncorruptiblePurePureness Incorruptibly Pure]] protagonists against Baby-Eating Evil antagonists. That and their [[MisanthropeSupreme complete misanthropy]].
** Creator/ToddSolondz shares his affinity for black comedy and nightmarish, misanthropic situations.
* ThereAreNoTherapists: In all his work, there is [[Film/{{Antichrist}} one]]. [[FromBadToWorse And he just makes things worse.]]
* {{Trilogy}}: Overlaps with ThematicSeries. To date, Lars has made four:
** The "Europa" Trilogy deals with, yes, Europe, specifically the precarious sociopolitical positions it was left in in the aftermaths of WWII and the Cold War. The films also work as a deconstruction of FilmNoir, and contain a recurring theme of Hypnotism as a storytelling device.
** The "Golden Hearts" Trilogy eschews the technical precision of the "Europa" Trilogy and refocuses on, to use Lars' words, "Honesty"; each film is shot with rough cinematography with a hand-held, restlessly moving camera, and features an [[TheCutie innocent, pure]] [[AlwaysFemale female protagonist]] pitted against [[BreakTheCutie insurmountable odds]]. It's probably for these films that Lars is the most famous.
** The "USA, Land of Opportunity" Trilogy pares things down further, verging on {{Minimalism}} as sets and most props are eliminated. We follows Grace, another Cutie continuously broken throughout a skewed, [[{{Satire}} satirical]] America. As of 2017, only two films of the trilogy have been made, making this perhaps an OrphanedSeries.
** And The "Depression" Trilogy utilizes the most technical wizardry since the "Europa" Trilogy, stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, and is about, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin well, guess]].
* {{Troll}}: His Hitler comments should be a good sign of this.
* WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes: Has a crippling fear of flying. He'll drive to the Cannes Film Festival when one of his movies is in competition, rather than take a plane.