FLIX PIX (6): “MELANCHOLIA: Lars von Trier’s Very Dark View of Humanity”

melancholia1Danish bad-boy artist, experimental auteur, Hitler apologist, and “legitimate” pornographer Lars von Trier reinvents cinema again with

MELANCHOLIA  (2011)

a charcoal dark meditation on depression, denial and desperation.

****+ (out of 5)

This most unusual drama packs a killer wallop that feels like the cinematic equivalent of a sledgehammer to the forehead- about as impactful as any film I have ever seen.  (And that’s saying something, when you’ve seen 4865 films!)

. It features two fine actresses at their best: a brooding but luminescent Kirsten Dunst and a nervous, nearly hysterical Charlotte Gainsbourg, with a supporting cast any director would kill for, including John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier, Kiefer Sutherland and an explosive  Stellan Skarsgard.  Of the lot, “mainstream” actress Kirsten Dunst provides the greatest fireworks, proving she is far more than a pretty face and luscious body, reclining nude, Maxfield Parrish-like bathed in the pale blue light of a menacing planet hanging heavy overhead! She gives a tremendous portrayal of a deeply depressed woman haunted by uncannily accurate secret knowledge that is more of a curse than a blessing.  Her portrait of a woman too depressed to take a bath was brave and heartbreaking.  (This woman was RIPPED-OFF by the clueless academy, who chose to overlook her intense, unflinching performance to the detriment of their own credibility.)

. When this controversial film debuted at Cannes, the iconoclastic director poured fuel on the fire, outraging and upsetting the world (and Ms. Dunst who was sitting right next to him!) by seeming to make sympathetic apologies for Adolf Hitler! Simply: Lars von Trier is crazy. He’s also a consistently amazing director. Despite the horrific debacle of ANTICHRIST, one of the only films I’ve ever seen that I wish I could UNsee, his films EUROPA, BREAKING THE WAVES, DOGVILLE, THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS and MANDERLAY were all fascinating and groundbreaking.)  So it’s a good thing investors are still willing to gamble on financing this crazy man’s singular visions!

. MELANCHOLIA is a fever dream of a movie, a hallucinogenic existential nightmare.  The enigmatic Mr. von Trier has hands-down the bleakest view of humankind I’ve ever seen articulated in a film.  His is a universe in which man is absolutely unique in nature, singular and utterly alone amid the vastness of space, a very lonely idea indeed!  For me, it’s impossible to talk effectively about this film, without discussing its ending.  If you haven’t yet seen MELANCHOLIA and you love movies- SEE IT!  But STOP READING HERE unless you’ve seen the film.  DO NOT READ beyond the…

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER   ALERT   SPOILER ALERT    SPOILER ALERT    SPOILER ALERT   …..

. Are you still reading?  Then you’ve seen MELANCHOLIA, and you won’t mind my discussing the ending.  The conclusion of this film seems all but inevitable from the ominous, woozy, unsettling prologue- as inescapable as tomorrow’s dawn.  And as much as we may wish for it, Mr. von Trier offers no bait-and-switch.  What you see is what you get.  There is no last-minute reprieve from a loving God, and just as the viewer fears, all life on planet Earth is obliterated in a massive cosmic cataclysm.  So why does this have so much impact when we see and feel it coming from the earliest slow-motion scenes? We even SEE the fatal collision between the planetary bodies at the end of the prologue- just in case we didn’t get the point!

. As awesome as it might have been to see the story told on a meta-level, like a disaster flick in the vein of 2012 or METEOR, this masterful director made highly effective choice of keeping the story small and contained.  The ultimate tragedy of the destruction of the entire species is incredibly theatrical, but abstract.  By focusing on a family: two sisters and a child, the looming threat of eminent Armageddon becomes personal.  We can invest these sympathetic women with our emotions in a more concrete way.  It is as though we are sitting there with them in their “magic cave”, counting down their final seconds with them, as they comfort the child with a make-believe game, designed to distract him from the knowledge of his own impending doom- as the killer planet Melancholia looms menacingly in the sky above them.  And as impact occurs, and the searing wave of oblivion washes over them in a firey cataclysm of instant vaporization, we are left behind: alive, and pondering the truly horrible possibility: What if Lars von Trier is right, and we ARE all alone in this vast universe…

. What then?

.

© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About KPKeelan

Fool, Philosopher, Lover & Dreamer, Benign TROUBLEMAKER, King and Jester of KPKworld, an online portal to visual and linguistic mystery, befuddlement and delight.
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One Response to FLIX PIX (6): “MELANCHOLIA: Lars von Trier’s Very Dark View of Humanity”

  1. Pingback: QUIET IN THE BACK! #28: “KPK On the Cinema: April 2012″ | KPKworld

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