Activist group PETA has become an unlikely ally for filmmaker and Cannes stunt queen Lars von Trier, releasing a statement in support of an animal mutilation scene in his new movie.
In von Trier’s shocking, walk-out inspiring Cannes entry “The House That Jack Built,” his antihero Matt Dillon is seen in flashbacks as a child amputating a duck’s leg to watch it struggle and die.
“Following numerous calls about a scene in Lars von Trier’s film ‘The House That Jack Built in which a young child uses a pair of pliers to cut a duckling’s leg off,’ PETA has confirmed that the ‘leg’ was created using movie magic and silicone parts,” a statement read.
“While depictions of gratuitous violence like this may leave viewers sickened, it’s true that serial killers, like the character in the film, often get their start by first torturing animals, making the scene all the more realistic and disturbing,” the group continued.
In a first trailer for the film, von Tier uses images of familiar prey and predators — a tiger and a lamb — in sequence with shots of killer Dillon and one of his presumed victims, Uma Thurman.
“PETA is also happy to report that the images of tigers in the movie were from stock footage, yet again proving that there’s no need to use live wild animals in productions, thanks to the many humane alternatives being embraced by filmmakers today,” they said.
In his only interview about the backlash, von Trier stayed true to form and felt that people were not offended enough by his latest.
“It’s quite important not to be loved by everybody, because then you’ve failed. I’m not sure if they hated it enough, though. If it gets too popular, I’ll have a problem. But the reception seemed just about right, I think,” he told international publication Cineuropa.
PETA keeps a watchful eye over Hollywood, most recently last year when the group launched a boycott of the Universal release “A Dog’s Purpose,” after a mobile phone video leaked of a German shepherd being forced into a wave tank to film a rescue scene.
IFC Films will release “The House That Jack Built” this summer.