Fully living up to his maverick reputation, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier (pictured), will not only direct Richard Wagner's mammoth 3-day long opera The Ring Of The Nibelungen in Germany but is writing a US-set film that features guns - but not lead girls.

"To head a staging The Ring Of The Nibelungen in Bayreuth has been a lifelong dream of mine, which is why I aim for a staging I can accept as worthy of the original, nothing less!" Trier said Thursday Oct 18. This new undertaking will not, however, interfere with his filmmaking plans, which include the much-anticipated Dogville starring Nicole Kidman.

While waiting for the film to be financed, and for shooting to start in Jan 2002, Trier has written a new script entitled Dear Wendy. "I really don't know how to describe it," producer Vibeke Windeloev told Screendaily. "I can only say that it is set in the US, is about a lot of guns and will take Lars in a completely new direction. This won't even have a female lead."

Windeloev, who has produced all Trier's films since Breaking The Waves, expects to be able to start financing Dear Wendy by the end of the year, with a shoot planned for summer 2003. This means Trier's epic operatic engagement won't be realised until 2006, but the filmmaker will nevertheless start preparations soon.

"I consider the invitation as a drafting, where you have to show up without reservation, like a soldier; submit to the terms and do your absolute best. I hope to compensate my lack of musical training with a sense of close spiritual connection to the master himself. I believe I intuitively know exactly how the ultimate staging will look, and I won't be satisfied until I have spent all my talent and strength on realizing it."

Trier will work closely with conductor Christian Thieleman as well as the Icelandic set designer Karl Juliusson, with whom he has worked on most of his features. Trier revealed his opera interest in Cannes in 1998, and it seems Bayreuth festspiel head Wolfgang Wagner has taken him at his word.