The première of Nymphomaniac, the much talked-about erotic epic by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, has been cancelled in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, after theater managers decided to dodge potential controversy.
The first part of von Trier’s five-hour opus of sex and angst was supposed to open in Yerevan on February 13, but the management of Cinema Star Dalma Garden Mall, part of a Russian chain, made a last-minute decision to cancel the show, Gazeta.ru reports.
Families make up the core of the Yerevan Cinema Star’s audience, managers said, and they may not want to keep up with the adventures of a liberated European woman, played by von Trier’s muse, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Hollywood stars like Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe and Christian Slater also make appearances in the film.
Granted this particular movie had jaws dropping in far less conservative places, but the Caucasus countries are especially uncomfortable with big sex on the big screen. Couples on a movie date often depart from a theater if a love scene becomes a little too racy.
Nymphomaniac is also not being shown in neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan. In the entire neighborhood, only Russia has no qualms about showing the peccadilloes and psychological torments of Gainsbourg’s character.
The Yerevan theater managers initially cited multiple complaints from the public as the reason for their decision, but there does not appear to have been a major public campaign against Nymphomaniac in Armenia, the country's relatively conservative values notwithstanding. Some movie-lovers have expressed disgruntlement about the cancellation, however. The theater has offered to compensate ticket purchases.
In the South Caucasus, smaller movie clubs often are the outlets for any daring or cerebral European cinema; mainstream movie theaters like the Cinema Star tend to play it safe and stick with Hollywood blockbusters.
Why the Yerevan theater decided to take the risk and show Nymphomaniac in the first place was not explained.