Saturday, 9 January 2010

Antichrist - Dir. Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier’s most recent release ‘Antichrist’ was collared with notoriety before it was even released theatrically, during its premiere screening at the Cannes Film Festival it was reported that allegedly three or four film critics fainted at the graphic scenes of sex and mutilation. So was it worth it? Has the Danish Dogme King made another ‘anti-masterpiece’? Well, the answer isn’t quite as simple as saying that ‘Antichrist’ was a good film or a bad film; it’s an incredibly complex creation that will certainly divide viewers of cinema alike.

Willem Dafoe is He and Charlotte Gainsbourg is She. During the opening prologue we are shown the sequence which sends both characters in differentiating spirals of grief, the sequence in question is the accidental death of their young child. The scene is spectacularly shot in black and white and slow-motion, with a haunting classical score accompanying the scene. As He and She make passionate love in bathroom, there child climbs out of his crib and accidentally falls to his death out of the buildings top floor window. He then decides to take She to a cabin in the woods, after the funeral, which He believes is her greatest fear, and the central aspect that is fuelling her catatonic state of grief and her inability to put the sadness of the death of their child behind them.

From here on in we are taken on a cinematic journey through four different chapters in the films structure. Staring with ‘Grief’, we then go follow through to ‘Pain’ and ‘Despair’, before culminating with the final chapter of the ‘Three Beggars’ and the inevitable and beautifully shot Epilogue. The basic themes encountered within these are gynocide, sadness, guilt and the provocation of the audience through extreme graphic sequences of on-screen mutilation and violence (Including the now notorious female genital maiming sequence and the act of bloody and violent masturbation of an incapacitated male).

While completely losing himself at times in a sea of arrogance and self-consciousness, Von Trier’s ‘Anti-Christ’ does have its moments of beautiful, yet bleak tranquilly. After all, if you take away the controversial sequences of violence and talking animals, the central theme of the film is simply the sadness, grief and inability to cope with the loss of a loved one and how male and female counterparts may handle the situation differently in their own ways.

Coupled with some striking cinematography, this film is more of an experience than anything else. I don’t actually fully understand everything that Von Trier is trying to explore within this world, but I can certainly admire it.
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