Antichrist (2009), directed by Lars von Trier
If the aim of science and philosophy is to find order in the Universe, and the aim of religion and politics to impose order on the Universe, then it is not wrong to say that the dissolution of order is, above all else, what man fears most.
I knew Antichrist would be a dark film, but as someone who has spent a considerable time looking at the darker side of human nature, it’s difficult for me to judge just how disturbing this film might be to someone not exposed to such content.
But before I continue, let me quote the product description from Amazon.com:
Lars von Trier shook up the film world when he premiered Antichrist at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. In this graphic psychodrama, a grief-stricken man and woman—a searing Willem Dafoe and Cannes best actress Charlotte Gainsbourg—retreat to a cabin deep in the woods after the accidental death of their infant son, only to find terror and violence at the hands of nature and, ultimately, each other. But this most confrontational work yet from one of contemporary cinema’s most controversial artists is no mere provocation. It is a visually sublime, emotionally ravaging journey to the darkest corners of the possessed human mind; a disturbing battle of the sexes that pits rational psychology against age-old superstition; and a profoundly effective horror film.
To me, Antichrist was certainly dark, but not nearly as psychologically disturbing as I expected it to be. I think I was more captivated by the emotional intimacy of this film than I was of the content or violence. It is definitely original, and I can think of no other film quite like it.
I wasn’t entirely happy with the cinematography. Some of it was quite awkward and ineffective, and I just didn’t like the editing. While the photography (especially in the woods) was very beautiful, I did find the brief intervals of CGI dream sequences to be unnecessary and ineffective. I just didn’t see how any of it added to the film. It certainly could have stood alone without them.
As far as the themes of Antichrist, I’m not sure I want to get into that at this point, simply because it would take too long (as there are so many, most of which are metaphorical), and also because it would be irrelevant if you haven’t seen the film. (If you have seen the film, we can discuss if you’d like.)
But suffice to say that I saw it as less about evil and more about a descent into madness. The bizarre behavior and violence reminded me more of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion than it did of any other film in which a person takes pleasure in doing evil for evil’s sake. Indeed, the evil of Antichrist is more about the disorder of the world -- the loss of what most people come to cherish as normal, acceptable, or predictible.
I also think the product description above overstates the events when it said they found “terror and violence at the hands of nature,” as there didn’t seem to be that much natural evil in the movie.
There is a lot of graphic sex and violence, so this is not a film for just anyone. I think this is an important film, and will be a must-see for any serious student of film. But I'm not sure I'm ready to say it is a "masterpiece."
Yeah, from wikipedia:
The title was the first thing that was written for the film. Antichrist was originally scheduled for production in 2005, but its executive producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen accidentally revealed the film's planned revelation: that Earth was created by Satan and not by God. Trier was furious and decided to delay the shoot so he could rewrite the script.
The idea that the world was created by Satan is an old one that some Christian sects believed.
Sorry Dallas, busy elsewhere. In a word, do you think this is a movie worth watching mate?
I just got through Diving Bell and the Butterfly the other night and that's a hell of a testament to the human "spirit".
Yes, I do think it is worth watching. It does have it's flaws -- namely that the artsy-fartsy stuff doesn't add a lot of genuine value to it, I think. But any student of film needs to see it.
Yes, DBB was just an okay movie, I thought, but you're right -- what a spirit he had.
Yeah. It certainly is.
I thought Von Trier was getting a bit above himself. Although the cinematography is superb in places, it's hardly Dogme 95 which Von Trier was part of.
Not being a kiss-arse, but I agree with your review, Dallas. Very much how it struck me - and no way a masterpiece.
That's okay. I like ass-kissers! : )
Glad you finally got around to seeing it. While not a masterpiece, I still think it will go down in the annals of cinematography as an important film.