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Nymphomaniac: How the movie is misunderstood

While the film – the first part of which opens in the US on Friday – has been banned in Turkey, its stars do not agree that it’s pornography. Tom Brook reports.

“I can’t understand what is upsetting about watching people on film doing something everybody does,” Stellan Skarsgård says. The Swedish actor has been dismissive about those who claim Nymphomaniac – in which he stars alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg, Uma Thurman and Shia LaBeouf – is a pornographic film.

It’s his eighth movie with Danish director Lars von Trier. “All his films are fairy tales, it’s not realistic people, but he brings them alive, it has a heightened level that is very exciting,” Skarsgård told Variety at the New York premiere of part one of the controversial movie. He claimed that it makes compulsive sex seem miserable rather than erotic.

Opening in the US this weekend, the film has been banned in Turkey, and elicited strong responses in other countries. Will the story − of nymphomaniac Joe recounting her sexual experiences to an older man (Skarsgård) − appeal to the majority of American moviegoers?

“Our culture is so friendly towards images of, you know, articulate violence but semi-horrified by the fear of sex,” says Uma Thurman. Yet critic Noah Gittell argues that the response to films like Blue is the Warmest Colour and Don Jon show that graphic depictions of sexuality are becoming more mainstream.

Tom Brook interviews the movie’s stars, and Gainsbourg reveals how her understanding of nymphomania changed after reading the film’s script.

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