Volume 1 theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lars von Trier|
|Produced by||Marie Cecilie Gade
|Written by||Lars von Trier|
Sophie Kennedy Clark
|Cinematography||Manuel Alberto Claro|
|Edited by||Volume I:
Molly Marlene Stensgaard
Les Films du Losange
145 minutes (Uncut)
180 minutes (Uncut)
325 minutes (Uncut)
|Box office||Volume I:
Nymphomaniac (stylized in advertising as NYMPH()MANIAC) is a 2013 two-part drama art film written and directed by Lars von Trier. The film stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Connie Nielsen, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman, and Willem Dafoe. The film was originally supposed to be only one complete entry; but, because of its four-hour length, von Trier made the decision to split the project into two separate films. Nymphomaniac was an international co-production of Denmark, Belgium, France, and Germany.
The world premiere of the uncut version of "Volume I" of the original five-and-half-hour-long version occurred on 16 February 2014 at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. The world premiere of the uncut version of "Volume II" debuted at 2014's Venice Film Festival. A "secret" advance screening of Part I occurred at the Sundance Film Festival on 21 January, 2014, at the Egyptian Theater with tickets distributed bearing the film title "Film X" amidst rumors the film could either be Von Trier's film, or Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. The general release world premiere of the complete 5½ hours Director's Cut took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 10 September 2014. The film was nominated for the 2014 Nordic Council Film Prize.
On a snowy evening, the elderly bachelor Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) beaten up and lying in an alleyway. He brings her back to his apartment and listens intently as Joe recounts the eventful story of her libidinous life. Seligman, a cloistered, overeducated man, connects and analyzes Joe's stories with what he has read about.
- 1. "The Compleat Angler"
Inspired by a fly fishing hook in the wall behind her and Seligman's love of Izaak Walton's book The Compleat Angler, Joe opens her story by talking about her precocious sexual fascination during her early childhood. Her father (Christian Slater) is a tree-loving doctor whom she adores dearly while her mother (Connie Nielsen) is, as Joe describes her, "a cold bitch". In adolescence (Stacy Martin), she loses her virginity to a random young man named Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf). This first encounter, which ends with Jerôme casually leaving her to fix his motorcycle, leaves her disappointed, while Seligman observes that the combination of the number of times Jerôme penetrated her, three times vaginally and five anally, resembles the Fibonacci sequence.
Some years later, Joe engages in a contest with her friend B (Sophie Kennedy Clark) during a train journey; whichever of the two women has sex with the most passengers by the train's arrival at the station wins a bag of chocolate sweets. After having sex in the toilet with several of the men she comes across, Joe wins by performing a blow job on a VIP carriage passenger, S (Jens Albinus). S is a married man who at first resists both her and B's advances, but ultimately gives in.
- 2. "Jerôme"
Joe talks about her first experiences with actual love, something she dismisses as "lust with jealousy added." Joe takes on more lovers as she, B, and several friends create a club, "The Little Flock", dedicated to liberating themselves from society's fixation on love. Joe eventually leaves after all the other members end up developing serious attachments to their conquests. As a young adult, Joe drops out of medical school and finds work as a secretary at a printing company. Her first employer is none other than Jerôme. Whilst sexual intentions are clearly on his mind, she finds herself avoiding his advances and sleeping with other co-workers, frustrating him. When Joe finally realizes she has developed feelings for Jerôme, she writes him a letter. However, she is too late as he has left along with his uncle's secretary Liz. She is immediately fired by his uncle (Jesper Christensen), the actual owner of the company, for her lack of experience and goes back to indulging her nymphomania, despite a yearning for Jerôme.
- 3. "Mrs. H"
On one occasion with one of her lovers, H (Hugo Speer), she causes conflict that makes him leave his wife for her. The distressed Mrs. H (Uma Thurman) arrives and demonizes both of them in front of her children, though Joe states in the present that this barely affected her. The situation then becomes more awkward as Joe's next lover, A (Cyron Melville), arrives at the house and finds himself in the middle of Mrs. H's mental breakdown. The family finally leaves, but not before Mrs. H verbally lacerates Joe, slaps her now ex-husband and leaves the apartment wailing.
- 4. "Delirium"
A conversation about Edgar Allan Poe and his death from delirium tremens reminds Joe of the last time she saw her father. She is the only one to visit him in the hospital as he dies of cancer. Joe’s father asks her not to slander her mother, who is afraid of hospitals, for not being by his side, explaining they said their goodbyes. Joe is a firsthand witness as her father deteriorates into fits of violent spasms. To take her mind off her father’s suffering, Joe sleeps with several people at the hospital. When he finally dies, Joe lubricates in front of the body and becomes numb with depression.
- 5. "The Little Organ School"
After Seligman explains how he feels Bach perfected polyphony, Joe uses his example to talk about three lovers leading up to her "cantus firmus." The "bass voice", F (Nicolas Bro) is a tender, but predictable man who puts her sexual needs above his own. The "second voice", G (Christian Gade Bjerrum), thrills Joe because of his animalistic control of her in bed. Just before the end, during one of her regular walks, Jerôme finds her after separating from Liz, a coincidence Seligman finds preposterous, and they embrace. As the two engage in authentically passionate sex - set to Joe's experiences with F and G - Joe becomes emotionally distraught when discovering she can no longer 'feel anything'.
Joe correctly discerns that Seligman has never slept with a woman, which is why he having trouble relating to her stories. He goes on to confirm his asexuality and virginity, but assures her his lack of bias and "innocence" makes him the best man to listen to her. She becomes inspired to tell him another portion of her life after a discussion about the differences between the Eastern Church ("the church of happiness") and the Western Church ("the church of suffering").
- 6. "The Eastern and the Western Church (The Silent Duck)"
Joe falls into a crisis upon losing her ability to achieve sexual pleasure; when the two conceive a baby together, Marcel. Jerôme struggles to keep up with her sexual needs and so he allows her to see other men. This is shown to be detrimental later, however, as he becomes jealous of her endeavors.
Joe tries to spice up her sex life by engaging in a tryst with a pair of African brothers, that turns into a botched threesome. Joe's self-hatred and need for novelty leads her to K (Jamie Bell), a sadomasochist who violently assaults women in his office. The more she visits him, the more neglectful she becomes in her domestic duties. On Christmas, Jerôme forces her to choose between the family and K. She picks the latter and takes a path of loneliness away from her one and only possibility of a normal life. Marcel is ultimately sent to live in a foster home.
Joe concludes the story with the first time K fisted her, her introduction to "the Silent Duck".
- 7. "The Mirror"
After K, Joe regains her sexual drive and becomes pregnant again. She asks her doctor to abort to 11-week pregnancy immediately. The doctor insists that Joe speak to a counselor first, but she is angered and offended by the counselor's questions. She decides to take matters into her own hands and perform the abortion on herself. Using "the common medical procedure that I had learned whilst studying medicine" - except without the anasthetics - she uses a wire hanger and other household instruments to force the fetus out from her womb. [This scene can be seen only on the Director's Cut edition]
Joe reaches a point where sex is now physically painful for her; a lifetime of extreme sexual activity has permanently injured her vagina. Her habits are known around her new office, prompting the boss to demand she attend sex addiction therapy. Joe attempts sobriety for three weeks and then abandons support group. She harshly insults every member of the group, and proclaims pride in her sexuality.
Suddenly, Joe notices how a stain on the wall resembles a Walther PPK gun, and knows exactly where and how to end her story.
- 8. "The Gun"
Realizing she has no place in society, Joe turns to organized crime and becomes a debt collector, utilizing her extensive knowledge of men, sex and sadomasochism. She describes a memorable house call to a man who she initially finds sexually unreadable. She ties him to a chair, strips him naked below the waist and tells him as many different dirty stories as she can think of. Upon further interrogation, Joe gleans that he is a deeply closeted pedophile. She takes pity on him and gives him a blow job. Joe explains to Seligman how she feels deep compassion for people born with a forbidden sexuality. She strongly identifies with the man's loneliness and status as a sexual outcast, and applauds him for going through life without acting on his aberrant desires.
Joe's superior, L (Willem Dafoe), recommends that she groom an apprentice and suggests the 15-year-old daughter of criminals. Joe is initially repulsed by the idea, but ends up sympathizing with the girl in question, P (Mia Goth). P is a vulnerable, lonely, damaged young girl who quickly latches herself onto Joe. The two of them click and form a special connection. Joe opens her heart to P and eventually invites her to move into her home. Their relationship develops a sexual dimension, and as P seems to mature, Joe hesitantly decides to teach her the ropes of her trade.
During one round of debt collection, Joe notices that they are at a house belonging to Jerôme (now played by Michaël Pas), and to make sure she is not seen, has P perform her first solo job. P drifts away from under her wing; late one night, Joe discovers that she has been seduced by Jerôme. In an alley in between her apartment and Jerôme's home, she waits for the two of them to emerge. She takes out her gun, but when she pulls the trigger, she forgets to rack the pistol. Jerôme viciously beats Joe and then has sex with P right in front of her, thrusting into P in the exact same way he once took her virginity. P urinates on her, and they leave her as she was at the beginning of the film.
In the present, Seligman ponders how the circumstances of Joe's life might have been due to differences in gender representation; all of the stigma, guilt and shame she felt for her actions made her fight back aggressively "like a man". Joe, who has until this moment been playing devil's advocate to Seligman's assumptions, finally feels at peace, having unburdened her story. She says she is too tired to go on and asks to go to sleep.
As Joe begins to drift off, Seligman silently returns. He climbs into the bed with his pants off and tries to penetrate her. The film cuts to black as Joe wakes up and, realizing what Seligman is doing, reaches for the gun. We hear Seligman protest as he justifies his actions, followed by a gunshot and the sounds of Joe fleeing the apartment.
Vol. I cast
- Uma Thurman as Mrs. H
- Sophie Kennedy Clark as B
- Connie Nielsen as Katherine (Joe's mother)
- James Northcote as Young Lad 1 on Train
- Charlie G. Hawkins as Young Lad 2 on Train
- Jens Albinus as S
- Felicity Gilbert as Liz (Secretary)
- Jesper Christensen as Jerôme's Uncle
- Hugo Speer as Mr. H
- Cyron Melville as Andy (A)
- Saskia Reeves as Nurse
- Nicolas Bro as F
- Christian Gade Bjerrum as G
- Maja Arsovic as Joe (7 years)
- Sofie Kasten as B (10 years)
- Ananya Berg as Joe (10 years)
Vol. II cast
- Jamie Bell as K
- Willem Dafoe as L
- Mia Goth as P
- Michaël Pas as Older Jerôme
- Jean-Marc Barr as the Debtor Gentleman
- Udo Kier as The Waiter
- Shanti Roney as Tobias (Interpreter)
- Caroline Goodall as Psychologist
- Kate Ashfield as Therapist
- Tania Carlin as Renée
- Daniela Lebang as Brunelda
- Omar Shargawi as Thug 1
- Marcus Jakovljevic as Thug 2
- Severin von Hoensbroech as Debtor in greenhouse
- Maja Arsovic as Joe (7 years)
- Ananya Berg as Joe (10 years)
Executive producer and Zentropa co-founder Peter Aalbæk Jensen revealed that the film is to be two parts. "We are making two films. It is a big operation. I personally hope that we should be ready for Cannes next year. We will shoot both and edit both – and we want to finish both at the same time.” He explained there will be two versions of each film: an explicit cut and a softer cut.
LaBeouf said in August 2012 that, "The movie is what you think it is. It is Lars von Trier, making a movie about what he's making. For instance, there's a disclaimer at the top of the script that basically says we're doing it for real. Everything that is illegal, we'll shoot in blurred images. Other than that, everything is happening. ... [V]on Trier's dangerous. He scares me. And I'm only going to work now when I'm terrified."
To produce scenes of unsimulated sex, von Trier used digital compositing to superimpose the genitals of pornographic film actors onto the bodies of the film's actors. Producer Louise Vesth explained during the Cannes Film Festival:
We shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles, who really did have sex, and in post we will digital impose the two. So above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles.
Gainsbourg and Martin further revealed that prosthetic vaginae and closed sets were used during filming. Martin stated that her acting experience for the film was enjoyable and, after explaining that the film's characters are a reflection of the director himself, referred to the process as an "honour." Martin also stated that shooting the sex scenes was a bit boring due to their technical nature.
The film makes several references to the other films in the trilogy. For example, the scene showing Marcel approaching an open upper floor window references the similar sequence during the beginning of Antichrist and even uses the same background music from that aforementioned scene. Furthermore, Joe's monologue about loneliness is edited to shots of the universe from Melancholia. As a reference to von Trier's comments at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, during a scene available in the director's cut only, "Joe says she could understand dictators such as Hitler. Seligman shakes his head in disbelief. After she showed sypmathy for racists and pedophiles, it is quite obvious that she also has to sympathize with the biggest mass murderer in history." Joe has been referred to as a "proto-fascist heroine."
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2014)|
A seven-track soundtrack was released digitally by Zentropa on 27 June 2014, containing a mix of classical and modern rock music, along with two sound clips from the prologue of the film.
- Prologue part I – Kristian Eidnes Andersen
- "Führe mich" – from Rammstein's 2009 album Liebe ist für alle da
- Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, arranged for cello (César Franck) – Henrik Dam Thomsen and Ulrich Staerk
- Waltz from Jazz Suite No. 2 (Dmitri Shostakovich) – Russian State Symphony Orchestra
- "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639", chorale prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach – Mads Høck
- Prologue part II – Kristian Eidnes Andersen
- "Hey Joe" – Charlotte Gainsbourg
Songs not included
- Waltz from Jazz Suite No. 2 (Dmitri Shostakovich) – Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
- "Born to Be Wild" – Steppenwolf
- The Carnival of the Animals: XIII. Le Cygne (The Swan) (Camille Saint-Saëns) – Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
- Missa Hodie Christus natus est: I. Kyrie (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina) – Schola Cantorum of Oxford
- Das Rheingold: Verwandlungsmusik (Richard Wagner) – Staatsorchester Stuttgart
- Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 59 "Für Elise" (Ludwig van Beethoven) – Balázs Szokolay
- "Lascia ch'io pianga" (George Frideric Handel) – Tuva Semmingsen (sv) and Barokksolistene
- Requiem Mass In D minor, K. 626: I. Introitus: Requiem aeternam (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) – Slovak Philharmonic & Chorus
- "Burning Down the House" (live) – Talking Heads
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2014)|
In early 2013, the first teaser poster was released from the film's official website. Shortly thereafter, Zentropa released a promotional photo shoot featuring the film's main characters posing in suggestive positions and a list of the film's chapters. This was followed by the release of a picture of Trier himself with duct tape covering his mouth, accompanied by a press release explaining the official launch of the film's campaign.
An incremental marketing campaign was used to promote the film, as brief video segments, each described as an "appetizer" by the film's production company, were released on the Internet leading up to the film's release date. Each appetizer represented each of the eight chapters of Nymphomaniac and the first one, entitled "The Compleat Angler," appeared on 28 June 2013, the last Friday of the month—this pattern would be followed for the monthly release of the subsequent clips. Following "The Compleat Angler," "Jerôme," featuring Martin and LaBeouf, was released in August; "Mrs. H" in September; the predominantly black-and-white "Delirium" (containing a voice-over by Skarsgård) was released in October; in November, the appetizer for "The Little Organ School" was uploaded to YouTube, but was quickly removed due to its explicit content; on 29 November, "The Eastern and the Western Church" was released exclusively for Vimeo; in December, the appetizer for "The Mirror" was released, again on Vimeo; and on 25 December, leading into the European release of the film, "The Gun" was released on the film's official website.
In October 2013, a series of posters were released, each depicting the film's characters during the moment of orgasm. Along with the appetizers and the character posters, five theatrical posters (three for the complete feature and one for each volume) and an international trailer featuring some of the explicit sexual scenes, were released.
In July 2014, Zentropa revealed the poster for the Extended Director's Cut when announcing the extended version's premiere at the Venice Film Festival. The poster combined the original teaser with Lars von Trier standing in between the two parentheses. 
In Pinellas Park, Florida, it was reported that the international trailer had been shown by mistake to the audience before the Disney PG-rated animated film Frozen. However, it was later acknowledged that it was extremely unlikely that any section of the film could have been played; it is believed that the film accidentally played was Dallas Buyers Club, which opens with a sex scene.
Von Trier's complete five-and-a-half-hour version was released in few territories and only long after the original premiere. Instead, a four-hour version was edited without the director's involvement and has been used for the film's international release, divided into two volumes — Volume I and Volume II — with ninety minutes missing.
Lars von Trier’s upcoming NYMPHOMANIAC is distributed in two parts (Volume I and II) and two versions (one lasting four hours in total, one in five and a half hours in total). From 25 December 2013, and approximately four months ahead, the four-hour long NYMPHOMANIAC Volume I and II is released worldwide. In some territories the two volumes will be released at the same time, and in some territories the volumes will be released apart. Each country has its own rules of censorship and in order to create cohesion between each country’s distribution strategies the four-hour long version will be the one released first. And even this version is expected to meet minor additional changes in certain countries. Just as Lars von Trier gave consent to the making of different censored versions of ANTICHRIST, when that film was released, Trier has also approved of this version of NYMPHOMANIAC. Technically the changes in the abridged version consist of an editing-out of the most explicit close-ups of genitals and the film has, in agreement with Lars von Trier, been shortened by his editors to a length, which has been decided upon in collaboration with several of the film’s stakeholders, two parts of two hours each. The five-and-a-half-hour long version of NYMPHOMANIAC Volume I and II expect to be finalized for distribution sometime in 2014. When, exactly, is to be confirmed. This version will be distributed in those parts of the world where laws of censorship allow. Ever since NYMPHOMANIAC was announced as Lars von Trier’s next project it’s been out in the open that the film would be distributed in different versions, ensuring financing, and as widespread distribution of NYMPHOMANIAC as possible, and finally to ensure Lars von Trier as much artistic freedom as possible.
— Producer Louise Vesth, November 2013, quoted from Nymphomaniac International Press Materials
We knew from the beginning that there would be various versions. But we didn't really work with that. We worked with one film, and that’s the film that is Lars’ version, the Director’s Cut. Then, after we’d worked with that for eight months, we used a month to do the shorter version. So it wasn't really like trying to do different versions at once. We just did one film – a film that we really liked. A long film with a break, basically.
— Editor Molly Malene Stensgaard, quoted from the 2014 Venice Festival issue of DFI-Film
The film's UK premiere took place on 22 February 2014. In the United States, the film was also released in two parts, billed as Nymphomaniac: Volume I and Nymphomaniac: Volume II, but on separate dates: 21 March 2014 and 4 April 2014. Volume I was released 6 March 2014 on demand.
In Australia and New Zealand, the four-hour version of the film was distributed by the Transmission Films company. Released on 20 March 2014, the two volumes were shown back-to-back with an interval.
In February 2014, a complete Director's Cut version of the film's Volume I was screened at the Berlin Film Festival. In September 2014, a complete Director's Cut version of the film's Volume I and Volume II was screened at the Venice Film Festival.
The complete five-and-a-half-hour Director's Cut, including both volumes, was finally released to a general audience in Copenhagen, Denmark, premiering on 10 September 2014, where it was shown with a half hour intermission at a red carpet gala screening with the director present in the audience; at this premiere, during the film's restored abortion sequence, where Joe performs an abortion on herself, three male audience members fainted and had to be carried out of the cinema.
Censored four hour version
On Rotten Tomatoes, Volume I achieved a 75% rating with an average rating of 6.8/10, based on 178 reviews; the consensus states: "Darkly funny, fearlessly bold, and thoroughly indulgent, Nymphomaniac finds Lars von Trier provoking viewers with customary abandon."Volume II received a 59% rating with an average rating of 6.2/10—based on 116 reviews; the consensus states: "It doesn't quite live up to the promise of the first installment, but Nymphomaniac: Volume II still benefits from Lars von Trier's singular craft and vision, as well as a bravura performance from Charlotte Gainsbourg." On Metacritic, the first volume holds a 64/100 rating, indicating "generally favorable reviews". However, on Metacritic, the second volume received a 60/100 rating, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
In England, Martin Solibakke of Mancunion praised Martin's performance, saying he had "never felt so sure about an actress' future success since I saw Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone four years ago". He ended his review with hailing the film, saying "Lars von Trier ends up hitting the G-spot of avant-garde filmmaking with a movie only he could ever make, and gives the open-minded members of the audience one of the most powerful and sensational experiences ever seen in arts." 
In Australia, David Stratton explained in The Australian newspaper that he "detested" some of Trier's films, and states that Nymphomaniac "seems designed to be his magnum opus, the film in which he gets to rail against everything he loathes about contemporary life and contemporary cinema." The modified version is screening in Australia, officially referred to as the "international" version. Stratton further stated on the television review program At the Movies that he found the four hour runtime of the film to be "daunting", but praised some of the performances, particularly those of Stacy Martin and Jamie Bell. Stratton's co-host Margaret Pomeranz meanwhile, while also praising the boldness of the performances, felt the film's unsimulated depictions of sex didn't add to the narrative and as such had, "such an undercurrent of sadism that I was, not repelled, but distanced". ThoughtCatalog remarked on how the plot failed to be consistent or plausible.
On the Melbourne community radio station, 3RRR, film criticism program "Plato's Cave" praised von Trier's work on Nymphomaniac and presenters, Thomas Caldwell and Josh Nelson, defended the director against accusations of misogyny. Both presenters agreed that actresses who von Trier has worked with, such as Nicole Kidman and Björk, have delivered excellent performances in his films, while Nelson referred to Antichrist and Melancholia, the first two installments of the Depression Trilogy, as "masterpieces". Caldwell concludes the review by stating, "... if you're coming new to him [Von Trier], I think this is a real crash course in all his preoccupations."
Extended 5½ hour Director's Cut version
When the complete Director's Cut had its general release world premiere in Copenhagen on 10 September 2014, major Danish critics gave it high ratings. In spite of this, the Director's Cut sold only 3,494 tickets in Danish cinemas.
Nymphomaniac was released both together (in a two-disc set) and separately via DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on 8 July 2014. The Extended Director's Cut was made available in the US on both home media formats on 25 November 2014. In December 2014, the Director's Cut was released on Netflix, where the theatrical versions were already uploaded.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nymphomaniac (film).|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Nymphomaniac (film)|
- Official website
- Official website at Magnolia Pictures
- Nymphomaniac: Vol. I at the Internet Movie Database
- Nymphomaniac: Vol. II at the Internet Movie Database