Last weekend I watched two Lars Von Trier movies off Netflix streaming: Antichrist and Melancholia. Lars Von Trier does strange work, which is probably why I like his stuff so much. I saw a comment on GetGlue that likened him to David Lynch. I think that might be mostly true.
The first LVT project I ever watched was The Kingdom and The Kingdom 2. These were actually two miniseries. If you’ve seen Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital, you’ve seen something that was inspired by the these films.
I haven’t seen an overabundance of his work, but I was excited to see both of these movies on Netflix streaming. I’d tried to watch Antichrist before and failed, not because of the movie but because I’d tried to watch and knit at the same time. It didn’t work. This is the kind of movie I needed to pay attention to.
Warning: I tried to avoid spoilers, but read at your own risk.
Antichrist stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a couple who lose their infant son when he falls out of a window while the couple are coupling. After the child’s death, the woman falls into a deep depression. Instead of allowing her to see a doctor, her husband decides to treat her himself.
This treatment leads them to Eden, their cottage in the woods where the woman had spent time with the child. As the movie unfolds through three chapters, new truths are uncovered, including the woman’s belief that nature is evil.
The movie is dark and some of the imagery is disturbing, but I thought it was well done and scary on a psychological level. Some of the scenes are painful to watch, though, so be warned, and the movie is sexually graphic. It’s also fairly depressing, but I enjoy LVT’s cinematography, and while not as visually striking as Melancholia, it was still interesting.
Melancholia is another depressing movie, but so beautifully done that after I thought about it, I realized how much I actually liked it. After a prologue of dreamlike images, the story opens on Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, on the day of her wedding.
Though very much the happy bride at the beginning, you soon realize that she’s anything but happy, a fact that angers her sister and brother-in-law who can’t understand what her problem is.
In the second chapter, we’re introduced to Melancholia, a planet hidden behind the sun that is anticipated to collide with the Earth. Justine’s sister Claire fears this, but is assured by her husband over and over again that they have nothing to worry about, that it will simply pass by and be one of the most beautiful things they will ever see. It is around this time that Justine comes back to stay with him, her depression now worse.
Though this movie is visually brighter than Antichrist, the theme is still dark. There are similar concepts, including the evil of nature (in this case, Earth itself), and some psychological concepts of how one might react knowing something no one else did (the first one dealt with this along the lines of guilt).
I can’t guarantee I’ll watch Antichrist again, but I’m already planning another viewing of Melancholia. I’m also hoping Netflix adds more movies from Von Trier. If anyone knows of other movies similar to his style, I’d be interested in recommendations.