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MELANCHOLIA - Post Release

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
This is kind of magnificent and it's a fascinating film from Von Trier who maintains his general miserableness but actually finds a human core he can gravitate towards. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg are both amazing as the two sisters at the centre of the film and it's a testament to both their abilities that the film is essentially split in half, with one half devoted to each, but never loses it's focus or sense of momentum. It is also amazing watching Von Trier change up his style, with the hyperstylised and glossy slow-mo of ANTICHRIST mixed with hand held, almost Dogme 95ish, intimate filming for the Justine section and a far more stately, far more subdued and frosty, style for Claire's section.

It's is also a film that feels remarkably claustrophobic and amazingly apocalyptic, with the majority of the action taking place in one location and centred largely on three characters but an event of planet sized significance happening in the background. This isolation makes the apocalypse, which is the opening act of the film, feel far more like a combined personal breakdown than the end of the world.

Dunst is probably the stand out in the film, although I've loved her in about half a dozen films, and she manages to make a character who should be difficult amazingly emotive and relatable without ever betraying how fucked up her character is. Gainsbourg has less to work with, but manages to make every second of screentime work. Even Kiefer Sutherland is fantastic as Claire's stern husband and the film is populated by great supporting turns from John Hurt, the Skarsgårds, Charlotte Rampling, even Udo Kier is great in this.

I'd like to write more, but I can't.
post #2 of 48

I think if I wanted to introduce someone to Lars Von Trier, this would be the film.   Not to say it's mainstream fare but it's not the endurance test some of his films are.   It's very accessible.   I love the fact that even though the planet is meant to be metaphorical, the sci fi elements weren't abandonned.  Alot of the science elements ring true and just enhances the story.

 

I'm still working through this movie and may need to see it again, but it's definitely something special. 

post #3 of 48

When the hell is the U.S. release date for this?

post #4 of 48

There are a lot of really great things in this movie which I trust fellow Chewers will address in far more insightful ways than I ever can.  It's the first film in a long, long while that has stuck with me days afterwards.  As a new parent, the horror of preparing your child for death and the different ways to deal with it (And, moreover, the question of How will you handle dealing with it?) resonated in a way that, had this film come out a year earlier, it would not.  There is a tremendous amount of beauty and horror in Melancholia and very little subtlety, which is typical for von Trier.  It's the most accessible film that he's made in years but it's also his most (oxymoron alert!) least subtle and most complex.

post #5 of 48

I've never been a huge von Trier fan. Have always respected him, but his films just didn't speak to me. But I loved this film. One of the best I saw at Fantastic Fest. As I noted in my recap piece, the opening sequence is truly gorgeous and amazing. Really shows a wildly different side to von Trier.

post #6 of 48

At TIFF (I can't speak for Fantastic Fest), the sound was astronomical (Pun intended).  It was the first time in a long time that I didn't mind being subjected to a rumble at such volume for such a long time.  I can't imagine watching this at home; I'd be told to Turn it down and thereby lessen the impact of the films really great sound design.

post #7 of 48

Yeah, this is the first von Trier film I would say qualifies as any kind of "theatrical experience."

post #8 of 48

I think that all of his films qualify as a theatrical experience if you include the audience as a part of the experience.  The sheer amount or walkouts (As well as when they walk out) make him movies mandatory to be seen in public settings.

post #9 of 48

Yeah the sound design is beautifully done.   And that last shot.   The fucking last shot.   Just amazing.  

post #10 of 48
Thread Starter 
God the rumble which just growls over the opening credits was just amazingly oppresive. The soundwork was fantastic throughout the entire thing. I actually saw it in a theatre without about 11 other people who all were real fidgety by the time Claire's section started.
post #11 of 48

Yeah that low rumble really did alot to sell the immensity of a planet being smashed into another.   I don't know what the budget is on this movie (probably not alot) but the way information was presented was very interesting.   For the prologue, you get the shots from space and sort of a God's Eye perspective but once the movie begins, we're earthbound the entire time.   To use of that simple device made out of a clothes hanger (?) presented all the info we needed and in a way was more chilling and scary than your typical "omnipresent" type presentation for these kinds of films.   I literally got chills when the planet exceeded the rings on the device because that felt more like something I'd personally experience than some flyover shot from space.   Great, economical way of getting things across and way more effective.

post #12 of 48
Thread Starter 
I think what is wonderful about that device is that it gives us a little hope as well. Because Von Trier is so willing to fuck around with audience perceptions I thought he might have been 'trolling' the audience a little by showing us the destruction in the opening. Any other director I would have assumed that what we saw on screen was unchangeable, but Trier has always been a tricky bastard. As such when Claire sees Melancholia going away we're allowed a moment of hope which makes the inevitable conclusion ten minutes later all the harder. But yeah, I loved the gnats eye view of the apocalpyse and how there are no news reports or witness testimonies, just these lonely people in isolation at the end of days. It makes that last shot really amazing because it's both heartrending and also oddly touching that this is their moment of connection.
post #13 of 48
After seeing My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done, I'm hesitant about my ability to enjoy Udo Kier in anything, but I desperately want to see this. Antichrist blew my mind -- I think it's one of the best cinematic depictions of gender relations ever. Can't wait until this hits Toronto, and nice post Spike.
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratty View Post

When the hell is the U.S. release date for this?



NY and LA get it on November 11th, then it goes into limited release on the 18th.

post #15 of 48
I have a feeling the US marketing approach will be to trick people into theaters by presenting this is some sort of end of the world thriller. Kinda like how they made audiences think Drive was going to be like The Transporter or something leading to all the bad audience reviews from people who felt tricked.
post #16 of 48

This is the film i'm most excited for in the remainder of 2011.  Nice to hear the Chewers having such positive things to say.  I'm kind of skimming to avoid spoilers (if any are present), but the general consensus seems to be that Von Trier has expanded on Antichrist in both visual and thematic arenas.  A profoundly depressed man bringing about the end of the world he despises with his art first through skewering individual relationships, then total planetary destruction.  I hope after the success (relatively speaking) of Drive, I get to see another madman Danish Auteur's work in a good theater with solid projection and sound.  I'm loathe to go see this at the local rundown art house theaters with their uncomfortable seating, exorbitant prices and pitiful projection and sound systems. I think especially with the coming Oscar season, there's room for films like this to eke out some viewership at the multiplex.  

post #17 of 48

Yeah... this one's going to stick with me for a bit. As mentioned, possibly Triers most cinematic film.

 

The thing which surprised me most was how funny the film was in places. Never thought I'd laugh while watching Lars von Triers 'End of the World'

post #18 of 48

Although the slow inevitability of the collision was part of the point, I couldn't help but think that the Gainsbourg half of the film really dragged.  Von Trier's films are often hilarious, even Antichrist was filled with black comedy, but this section felt like it was lacking in that regard.  Von Trier's devilish glee at tormenting his characters and his audience was still apparent, but there just wasn't enough of anything there.  Really it struck me as almost redundant.

 

The first half of the film was much stronger, as there was just more for him to play off of with the wedding reception, the fucked up dynamics of all the people.  Plus the opening sequence was a much more beautiful and terrible vision than the version in the finale.

 

 

One bit I liked in the Claire half:  As I was watching Gainsborg futilely try to race her son to, well, nowhere, frankly, in the golf cart, I was thinking about "rich people's problems" movies, and how this was a rather grandiose, macabre version of one.  Then I remembered a quote from the Cannes screening.  I can't remember who said it, but it was something like "White people's problems go galactic."

post #19 of 48

I think von Trier gets depression, and although I didn't feel the film was a very deep examination of it, you definitely realize he knows it and respects its power.  And yet, even as one might know it intellectually, clinically, or even on a personal level, it's still so hard to understand someone else's.  To fully accept that when they're in that funk, they can't just snap out of it.

 

I felt like making a film about depression that was so big, so self indulgent, he was almost mocking himself.  As if to say, I know this is a terrible state to be in, I've been in it myself... but it's also kind of ridiculous.  We DO need to get over ourselves.  We just can't.

 

The film is very much about how we're all alone.  Think about the two planets slowly moving together in the opening sequence.  It was almost romantic.  But then they collide, and it's pure destruction.  Juxtaposed against a wedding reception.  Hint hint.

post #20 of 48

Goddamn if this wasn't a thrilling and moving and tremendous cinematic experience that I don't know if I understand in the slightest.

 

I mean, I know Von Trier is dealing with depression and cosmic loneliness and how they sort of inform one another and are the same thing. But I don't know if I fully absorbed the film's themes deeply enough to say that I got them, and even deeply enough to write about them. I'm not even sure what Melancholia the planet is meant to symbolize. I'm pretty sure it's a symbol for death, or Dunst's depression, but I don't understand the exact role that symbol plays in the story or its logical thematic progression or what the specific artistic statement of the movie even is.

 

At the same time, though, there are all kinds of different ways to read the movie. It accommodates a ton of different perspectives -- maybe Dunst escapes depression through fantasy at the end? Maybe she consumes everyone around her with her depression? Maybe she transcends her emotions in the film's last minutes and actually overcomes her depression? I literally have no idea, and I think a strong case can be made for any of these readings -- which at the same time would refute each other if you tried to make them coexist.

 

But instead of suggesting that Von Trier is confused and directionless as a storyteller, I think it's more an indication of the emotional universality he's tapping into. Or maybe this movie is so personal and specific to him that the only person who can completely understand it is himself. Despite all that, it's one of my best of the year -- and maybe that makes me a bad critic(al person). Again, not sure. But being confused is probably a good sign, since it's so rare that a movie can actually have that effect on me personally these days.

post #21 of 48

Also, maybe the photography in this movie deserves its own post. There are about a dozen different incredibly beautiful images in this movie that will probably haunt me for years.

post #22 of 48

So I'm curious about your reactions to the Claire half.  Obviously I am not expecting some kind of analysis... I can't provide one either.  I'm just curious your response to it.  Outside of the final 15 minutes or so, what made it vital?  What was the point of making a "Claire" half at all, aside from the natural division due to the jump forward in time post-wedding party?

post #23 of 48

Justine and Claire, I think, represent two different (polar opposite, really) approaches to life and death.

 

Justine has given up on life. To her, it's all shit. "Life on Earth is evil." Claire has a husband and son — she's invested in life. As the apocalypse approaches, they switch roles — Claire becomes a basket case while Justine is calm and even has a way to make the son feel safe and protected. (The only thing Claire can think to do is run — in a fucking golf cart, no less. What good is that 18-hole golf course gonna do you now, rich folks?)

 

So that's why the "Claire" half of the movie, I think. In part it's that Laingian thing where only the mad have the clarity to see things as they are. John denies it, lies about it, fools himself about it, trusts science about it, but it's going to happen anyway. Much like death itself.

post #24 of 48

I could only respond to this movie primitively. The plain, content look on Dunst's face in the final fifteen minutes of this movie just said so fucking much to me. Crushing, familiar.

post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Blank View Post

Justine and Claire, I think, represent two different (polar opposite, really) approaches to life and death.

 

Justine has given up on life. To her, it's all shit. "Life on Earth is evil." Claire has a husband and son — she's invested in life. As the apocalypse approaches, they switch roles — Claire becomes a basket case while Justine is calm and even has a way to make the son feel safe and protected. (The only thing Claire can think to do is run — in a fucking golf cart, no less. What good is that 18-hole golf course gonna do you now, rich folks?)

 

So that's why the "Claire" half of the movie, I think. In part it's that Laingian thing where only the mad have the clarity to see things as they are. John denies it, lies about it, fools himself about it, trusts science about it, but it's going to happen anyway. Much like death itself.

 

I guess what I am saying is, what did that second half tell us that we didn't already know?  We knew who Justine was.  We could have guessed how Justin would respond.  We knew Claire would freak out.  Most of it was a foregone conclusion, and even Justine's sense of eerie calm at the very end was shown in haunting and effective silence at the beginning of the movie.  To my eyes, to justify both the length and, frankly, the chapter title, it felt like the second half needed to give us more of who "Claire" was.  Otherwise, the second part of the movie could have been 20 minutes.

 

Another way the movie could have gone would have been to explore if Justine's "powers" were those of a visionary, or something darker.  Was she the only one to see the doom they all faced, or was she somehow willing doom upon all she touched? (Granted, when the threat is a planet smashing into Earth, that would have been far fetched, to say the least.  But I think it could have been a provocative avenue to go down with regard to depression.)

post #26 of 48

Justine looks content at the end partly because events have confirmed what she's felt all along ("I see things"), partly because it'll all be over soon.

 

People were skeptical when Kurt Cobain said in his final interviews that he'd never been happier. I'm sure he was being honest.

 

It's like when you give your two weeks' notice at a job you hate. Those last two weeks are way easier because you know you're out of there soon.

 

For depressives, setting one's mind to ending it all — or witnessing the end of everything — is the two weeks' notice at the shitty job of life.

post #27 of 48

The Justine/Claire schism did strike me as somewhat arbitrary, but the fact that the structure of the movie tries to be clearly divided is kind of a reflection of the film's pervading duality. Life/death, happiness/sadness, indifference/caring, Melancholia/Earth, and Justine/Claire. I think Trier is toying with opposites throughout the film, and splitting the film into two chunks is perhaps a way of further exploring that.

 

I am surprised, though, you think the Claire section was more unnecessary, Bailey. Arguably that's where most of the plot happens, and the whole Justine section doesn't concern itself much with Melancholia the planet at all.

 

I do think the theory that Justine is a sort of prophet figure is accurate. Perhaps Trier is implying that depression and the indifference it entails allows people to see the futility of life or something, to have greater insight into it. And that insight is what allows her to provide a last few moments of contentment for Claire's kid by providing him an avenue of escape into fantasy. The only chance you have when faced with death is retreating into your own mind, which Justine is naturally suited for due to her the introspective nature of depression. I don't know if that's true, necessarily, but it seems like what Trier may be getting at.

 

Also, I do not really think Justine ended the movie "happy" in any way. She looked content in the last few moments in the "cave," until she sees Claire suffering from intense grief and terror right beside her. Then she actually starts to crack and almost looks like she's about to cry before Melancholia hits. In a way, Claire's sadness transmits itself into her, which is what Justine has been doing to everyone else throughout the movie. So maybe, in a way, the movie is actually about a depressive becoming self-aware and overcoming their depression by understanding how it affects others. Emotions, then, are not such an individual thing, but are what connects and binds people -- which is ultimately sort of an optimistic view that suggests we are not actually alone. Maybe the last few moments of the movie are about Justine realizing that.

post #28 of 48

But didn't you think whatever plot there was in the second half was just perfunctory?  The reason the first half is so good is because we learn about Justine, we learn about her family, we learn about the fucked up relationships they all have, and how her depression affects all of it.  We see what will happen in the opening sequence, and then we learn about all these people, and then we wonder if Justine's depression is a product of her world, or if the strength of her gravity is what brings the world around her crashing down.

post #29 of 48

This is all assuming any of it is to be taken literally. A lot of it reads a whole lot like a suicidal woman's wish-fulfillment fantasy. She doesn't even have to do the scary work of committing suicide; all life on Earth is going to die soon anyway. She gets to be helpful and wise, basically better than all the normals around her. Even her asshole brother-in-law bites it in a particularly ignoble and cowardly way (leaving his wife and son to deal with the catastrophe), so she's way braver than he is.

 

I think what von Trier is doing in all these suffering-woman movies he makes is to take something that's bothering him and pour it all into a woman. It's not that he likes to see women suffer; it's that these characters come out of the "feminine," "vulnerable" side of himself. Charlotte Gainsbourg basically said this when she said that her character in Antichrist was essentially von Trier himself. I think Justine is, too. And I think — mind you, this is far from the "only" or definitive reading — von Trier, whose own bouts with depression have been widely publicized, had this perfect fantasy where a suicidal woman could be a heroine, and Melancholia is the result. I can imagine a whole lot of depressed young women hooking into this film like whoa, the way a lot of emo boys embraced Donnie Darko.

 

Something else: twenty years ago Jennifer Jason Leigh would've owned this role. (Not that Dunst isn't awesome in it as well. But it's exactly the sort of thing Jason Leigh was doing in her Heart of Midnight/Last Exit to Brooklyn period.)

post #30 of 48

Bailey -- I think maybe it might seem perfunctory since the second half draws attention away from Justine, and I think what you're getting at is that, since she's sort of the thematic crux of the movie, this ends up being a distraction rather than a fleshing-out of the ideas the first section gets across clearly enough by itself. You might be right, and I think it is true that the two halves feel very distinct to the point where they don't coexist comfortably (i.e., it could also be argued that the first half is perfunctory, and the second half could exist fine without it). I mean, the first is basically a realistic social comedy, while the second is a wild impressionistic symbol-fest.

 

I dunno. I think that the second half takes the issues that are somewhat latently present in the first and blows them up to the point where the symbolism and metaphor overwhelms the reality and stands in for it. In doing so, it's able to get at some deeper kind of emotional truth that seems totally absent from the pointless (and maybe itself perfunctory) social ritual of the wedding. So I don't think that either half is perfunctory, although maybe we are meant to think either one could be, and that they inform each other on the level of theme, if certainly not plot, quite nicely.

post #31 of 48

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Blank View Post

This is all assuming any of it is to be taken literally. A lot of it reads a whole lot like a suicidal woman's wish-fulfillment fantasy. She doesn't even have to do the scary work of committing suicide; all life on Earth is going to die soon anyway. She gets to be helpful and wise, basically better than all the normals around her. Even her asshole brother-in-law bites it in a particularly ignoble and cowardly way (leaving his wife and son to deal with the catastrophe), so she's way braver than he is.


I also think the element of fantasy is an important one. Some of the images in the opening sequence are of Justine's dreams, i.e. the one where she's walking through the yarn. They escape via fantasy at the end, with the magic cave. And in some ways, I think the scene where Justine is lying nude by the river is Claire's fantasy image of her indifference, in that Justine is just relishing in the sexuality of death and is mostly just strange and deluded, with no special insight. It wouldn't make much sense, plot-wise, for the near-bedridden Justine to go crawling out in the middle of the night to lie nude by the river for seemingly no reason. And the image just looks intensely dream-like and totally unreal, like most of the images in the opening sequence do.

post #32 of 48

JMulder, I would agree with you if von Trier hadn't already put that big, cosmic symbolism in the first half of the movie.  But it was already there.  Maybe not to the extent it was in the second half, where it rightfully dominated, but I can't shake the notion that "Claire" was just a conclusion stretched out way too long.

 

I hope it doesn't sound like I am dismissing your thoughts, or Martin's.  I appreciate reading them.  I'm just trying to figure out that section of the movie to the best of my ability.  And that, in and of itself, is an indication it was doing something right, I suppose.

post #33 of 48

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bailey View Post

JMulder, I would agree with you if von Trier hadn't already put that big, cosmic symbolism in the first half of the movie.  But it was already there.  Maybe not to the extent it was in the second half, where it rightfully dominated, but I can't shake the notion that "Claire" was just a conclusion stretched out way too long.

 

I hope it doesn't sound like I am dismissing your thoughts, or Martin's.  I appreciate reading them.  I'm just trying to figure out that section of the movie to the best of my ability.  And that, in and of itself, is an indication it was doing something right, I suppose.


Nope, doesn't sound like you're dismissing anything. I think the movie's a tough nut to crack and welcomes different interpretations. Only makes sense that it would inspire conflicting opinions.

 

And maybe that section of the movie is mostly pointless like you say. I'm not secure enough in my understanding of it to even say I totally disagree.

 

post #34 of 48

Aah, don't be insecure; von Trier's more emotional work (basically anything with a female lead) demands to be felt, not laid out and dissected Faraci-on-Inception-style. No understanding of it is wrong. It deals in inchoate images and emotions even von Trier himself probably doesn't fully "understand." This is why programmatic interpretations of his movies (Americans suck, women suck, men suck), usually advanced by people who hate them, feel so far off base.

 

Some people (not including anyone in this thread) need movies to mean only one thing, and that thing needs to be readily apprehended right out of the box. They're not stupid people, it's just how they're wired. I was talking to someone who dismissed Lost Highway as meaningless and I said "It means what you want it to mean; it is what you bring into it," and he said something like "Then it's just a children's puzzle," and I just felt sad for him. Movies are not always under obligation to tell straight-up nerd-logic-approved narrative stories. It isn't even what they started out doing. Sometimes they just mean to evoke, to riff, to be jazz. This is not to squelch debate on what Melancholia means; quite the opposite. Don't feel like you need a PhD in Lars von Trier to have a take on the flick. Someone could say it's a prescient allegory about Occupy Wall Street and who's to say they're wrong? What's important is what it means to you.

post #35 of 48

So, what to make of this film. Saw it last night, loved it, felt it deeply. Struggling with aspects of it. 

 

Justine's section was on fire, Claire's section did feel a bit perfunctory. Part of me wished the entire film focused on the night of opulent, disastrous wedding. 

 

What to make of Justine's sexuality? What to make of her ineffectual, frightened groom? I was far more intrigued by his character than I thought I would be. And Kiefer Sutherland blew me away with his understated, coldly sympathetic performance. His suicide was a very effective punch to the gut. And that final shot. Wow. 

post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe T View Post

I could only respond to this movie primitively.



Are you a primate?

I liked the first half, which is such a great black comedy, but the big, bad metaphorical disaster of the second half short-changes the drama for slow, brooding, boring dread. I understand this is Von Trier's attempts at explaining his depression, and some of that works to a point, but it also seems far too simplistic and unsophisticated. We get to know Justine in the first half, but by the second half she seems less like a character and more of a walking, talking metaphor. Meanwhile, I feel like we hardly get to know Claire at all, so the effect of them somewhat swapping personality traits (as one planet overpowers the other) isn't all that effective because by the end, both women seem like pawns rather than characters. I'm a bit surprised that so many critics are fawning over it, frankly.  Maybe because it's Von Trier-lite. I think it's his weakest film in years. 

The opening sequence is beautiful, though. So there's that. 


Edited by Parker - 12/9/11 at 10:40am
post #37 of 48

"It tastes like ashes!" Oh my god. I haven't been this crushed by a movie in a long time.

post #38 of 48

Just watched this yesterday, and I can't shake this feeling that this is all in Justine's mind as she contemplates then commits suicide, a figurative "end of the world".  The planet Melancholia comes closer, moves away, then ultimately consumes everything, much like Justine's actual mood of melancholia ebbs and flows and finally consumers her.  It's not accidental that the first batch of results when Claire Googles "Melancholia" are for the mental condition and not the planet, which is odd, since you'd think a giant planet hurtling towards Earth would dominate the search results.  Important yet ultimately extraneous people -- her boss, her parents, her husband -- disappear from her life, and the Claire half of the film could almost be Justine trying to imagine herself in a similar kind of life and seeing the dead end it would be for her.  The horse refusing to cross the bridge could represent her nearly breaking free of her depression, but not being able to make that final step towards healing.  In the end, she holds close to her those she truly cares about, and calmly accepts the end.

post #39 of 48

I only watched it the once, so I may be rusty on some things, but the planet is already such an obvious symbol of her depression, I don't really know how much it would matter if it's all in her head or not.  I tend to think not, though, because one of the key aspects of the film is how depression affects the people around you, and so to have it be a literal planet that destroys everything in its path is the kind of blatantly provocative thing I think von Trier would favor.

post #40 of 48

So, I just watched this.  Wow, what a powerful film. Sutherland, Dunst, and Cherbourg are amazing.  All the interpretations above are intriguing and have kept me re evaluating what I have watched.  I would never have known it existed and its quality with CHUD.

post #41 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bailey View Post

I only watched it the once, so I may be rusty on some things, but the planet is already such an obvious symbol of her depression, I don't really know how much it would matter if it's all in her head or not.  I tend to think not, though, because one of the key aspects of the film is how depression affects the people around you, and so to have it be a literal planet that destroys everything in its path is the kind of blatantly provocative thing I think von Trier would favor.

 

I never doubted that the planet is real. The opening sequence is Dunst's premonition, yes. She's haunted by it and it's the reason she can't enjoy the wedding. But when she realizes that the end IS coming, and that she knows exactly HOW it will come, it liberates her. She's comforted by that certainty.

post #42 of 48
Quote=Bailey:
So I'm curious about your reactions to the Claire half.  Obviously I am not expecting some kind of analysis... I can't provide one either.  I'm just curious your response to it.  Outside of the final 15 minutes or so, what made it vital?  What was the point of making a "Claire" half at all, aside from the natural division due to the jump forward in time post-wedding party?

 

I watched this yesterday, and I'm still a bit shaken. This film has dominated my thoughts ever since. I think it's a masterpiece.

 

The Claire half felt right to me, and unfortunately I can't provide much analysis beyond that. It felt more like an extended third act than the "Part Two" of a film, but I think it's designed to A) play the film out to its inevitable endgame, and B) show how fragile we all are, whether suffering from depression or not. In the time of ultimate chaos, Justine was at her most resigned and peaceful. I found the futility of Claire's actions at the end to be crushing, as she tries to escape from something she can't escape from. Justine came to grips with that during the first half, and we're watching Claire's journey to that same acceptance in the second half.  

 

I found the whole thing astonishing. It's the same bleakness as much of Von Trier's filmography, but leavened by a strange serenity that kept me enthralled. It took me a while to find my favorite film of last year, but I think I've found it.

 

EDIT: I caught the tail end of Spider-Man 2 on FX last night, and seeing Kirsten Dunst show up in a wedding dress on Maguire's doorstep seems way less romantic now.


Edited by Mangy - 7/8/12 at 9:47pm
post #43 of 48

The problem with MELANCHOLIA is that the opening Wagner music video so concisely and beautifully conveys everything the movie has to convey, so the rest of the film is tediously redundant.

post #44 of 48

Saw this last year at a travelling film festival, and it screened on one of our TV channels over the past weekend. I find this so much more resonant the second time around - I can remember that I enjoyed it last year in the cinema, but the re-watch on TV is just so terribly haunting. I don't have a whole lot to add save for a couple of interesting technical points which I find attractive, and others may find overly "cute", chief of which that Justine's bridal bouquet is made of Lily of the Valley which, through the 19th century at least, was a common decorative theme in mourning jewellery like bracelets, cameos etc. I don't think that was an accident. 

 

The other is the specific use of Tristan und Isolde from the Wagner catalogue. Suffice it to say that Wagner of any stripe could probably fit with the apocalyptic plot / analogy (depending on your POV), but the piece centred upon star crossed lovers, who are "tricked" by magic into falling in love with each other...again, hardly an accident.

 

I think I'm going to have to own this one.

post #45 of 48

The one thing that always bugged me about this movie was Justine's paranormal abilities.  She gets the amount of marbles right, I think she spots Melancholia (or another star) in the sky first, she even says she is special towards the end.  I just feel like the reading of the movie that depends on Justine being the representative of Melancholia or depression is still an apt comparison w/o the paranormal abilities.  So why does Lars make her psychic?  Is he trying to say that with the depression that can torment your life, you also get a sense of the divine or supernormal as a kind of bargain? 

Justine also rearranges one of the books in the library to show one of the shots in the opening sequence, so that might play into her abilities as well, I just don't see how.

post #46 of 48
Justine is miserable in part 1 because she doesn't yet know what her visions of apocalypse mean. It's the uncertainty that defeats her. Once she realizes that things are playing out exactly as she foresaw, the doubt and ambiguity are removed and she relaxes into acceptance, finally understanding that her role will be to serve as an agent of compassion.
post #47 of 48
It seems perfectly in keeping with the almost comic grandiosity of the central metaphor. I didn't see it as Melancholia representative of depression so much as Melancholia representative of Justine's depression. Which is to say depression when you're inside of it. So Justine would naturally be the gifted, tortured herald of this coming apocalypse. As usual Von Trier is taking the piss, although I think he probably identifies with people like Justine, he nevertheless seems to be playing on the notion that we inflate our own personal issues to the point of absurdity.
post #48 of 48

I too read the metaphor as being specifically for Justine's depression, and her clairvoyance as something akin to the warning symptoms some sufferers of migraines experience. I mean that in the sense that her spotting the planet the night of the wedding is the harbinger of the deep depressive cycle about to commence, as with the beans in the jar. As she realises the depression is going to escalate, her need to relate/confide in her parents becomes more urgent as the night progresses. 

 

Another little touch I appreciated: Justine's hair has been hacked off from a pony-tail (ala how she wears it in the horseriding scene the morning after the wedding), not just cut short. It's noticeably shorter at the back where the elastic was holding the hair closest against her head. A gesture that is in keeping with escalating grief/mourning/madness archetypes you see throughout the film.

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