Monday, October 10, 2011


By s. Monday, October 10, 2011 , , , , , ,
(136 min, 2011)
Director: Lars von Trier
Writer: Lars von Trier
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland

Life is only on Earth. And not for long.

“Melancholia” is the only Von Trier's movie I liked – actually it's an understatement – I loved every second of it. It's also – quite possibly – the most impressive movie about the end of the world. There are no happy turns of events, no chance for survival. Bruce Willis doesn't hit the planet and saves the Earth, rest assured. All that humanity facing is destruction and the ultimate end and perhaps it's because of that the movie works so well – it's the perfect metaphor for impending death that awaits everyone.

The film consists of two parts, each entitled with the name of two sisters who are protagonists of the film. First one is Justine, peculiar girl dealing with strong depression and the other is Claire, who is married, has a son and tries to help out her troubled sister. The film shows how in facing tragedies people who under normal circumstances appear to be weak deal with situations better than functioning humans. When all hope is gone Justine is calm, prepared. She appears to be sensing doom and danger way before the others and because of that when the end is near she doesn't panic. She even lies naked looking at Melancholia, awaiting the inevitable, already understanding it and sensing a deep connection with mysterious planet. Claire on the other hand falls into hysteria and the roles turn – it is Justine who needs to help her sister. The movie's best scene is the conversation the sisters have about how they will behave when the planet hits. Claire wants to make it almost normal, light up candles, drink some wine – do all of those ordinary things, that ultimately won't matter. Claire despises those rituals, as she despised her own wedding party during which she undressed and took a bath.

In the first part we observe the said wedding party. This section differs so much from other Von Trier's films – we actually get to see decent men and this time the women are the heartless ones. Justine's husband is sweet, calm and caring. Her father genuinely cares for his daughter and Claire's husband tries to help his wife with making everything work and go smoothly. It's Justine and her mother who ruin the day and bring suffering to those around them, being incredibly selfish. However that attitude works in the movie in two ways – first it shows how similar Justine and her mother are and how much they don't care about rituals, things people do to stay and appear “normal” and to create illusion of importance. It also works as the awaking for all of us watching the movie – how much do normal things and conventions really matter, if one day everything will be gone and no one will remember it? Do we do those things for us or for others?

“Melancholia” has a prologue that uses the same technique “Antichrist” did – ultra-slow motion that makes the images appear to be floating through frames. With “Antichrist” we saw unnecessary nudity and prolonged take that portrayed death of a child, with “Melancholia” we see beautiful images that not only prepare us for what will come next but also deliver insight into Justine's and Claire's mind. One of the most haunting shots is Justine in her wedding dress with her legs entangled into roots which pull her. Another one shows Claire with her son in her arms, trying to run. Justine is suffocated by reality, she sees marriage as a trap. For Claire her family life is the center of her life and she tries to escape the apocalypse and save her son. But Justine has nothing to lose – she quit her job, she left her husband. There is only her and Melancholia left.

“Melancholia” is the opposite of the movie which won Palme d'Or in Cannes - “The Tree of life”. I truly believe that if it wasn't for Von Trier's controversial comments things could have gone differently, especially because “Melancholia” is far superior film. Regardless of the quality and my low opinion of Mallick's new movie, whilst the latter deals with life, hope, love and creation “Melancholia” shows destruction, fear, death and sadness. Perhaps that's why it's such a strong film – it forces us to confront our fears without giving us any false hope. We are left alone with our thoughts after the movie is over and we have reflect on what happened hours after the film. I made it sound like a grim and almost toxic film, didn't I? Luckily, it's so stunningly shot that the apocalypse - as frightening as the concept is -actually overwhelms us with its beauty. And the final shot of the film is perhaps the most crashing you can expect to see in any movie that premieres this year.


I am of the ebbing water
of the leaves which tremble
nudged by the sound of wind
which flies by in haste

I am of the evening
which cannot fall asleep
it stubbornly stares
with the hungry eyes of stars

the night -- through blueskied veins
in every strand of a body's tissue
in the fingertips
throbs with the passionate the unfulfilled

I am the rasped voice
dumbly silent
over me the days
on huge empty wingspans
pass on by...

- untitled by Halina Poswiatowska


  1. Terrific review! Very well written! I really enjoyed the film, but my rating was 8/10, simply because of how dead the pace kind of is. Still, Dunst was great.

    Also, your blog looks amazing! I am jealous of the thing you done with the images linking to the 2011 reviews (which is how I got to this post) I will follow your blog!

  2. Great post, I so need to watch this film as soon as I can. Also thanks for your comments on my blog they mean a lot.

    1. You're welcome!

      The film is really great, it's quite peculiar but I think it's the most accesible out of Von Trier's movies.

  3. Great post Sati. You obviously felt some connection with the film to enjoy it so much. Unfortunately I went the other way. I felt it to be interminable, however beautiful the imagery was. Anyhoo, that's what opinions are, just that.
    Keep up the good work by the way, and the blog looks fab.
    PS: thanks for a couple of comments too. Means a lot to have others reading and sharing their thoughts.