as far as films can go in capturing clinical depression, this film does it. more than antichrist, the internal workings and expressions of someone disturbed by MDD, the problems they cause, the gut-ache, the insanity.
like antichrist this film plays with gender politics and comes out winning, women are central to this film, men and women are equally ‘schizophrenic’ in different measure, and, while he relishes in making the audience squirm, by the end of this film I personally didn’t think that he hates or misunderstands women (or jews, for that matter), while I’m sure the argument against my assertion has been made.
the film is nostalgic in the darkest attitude. modern art like kandinsky or mondrian, the ecstasy of the spiritual, expression of an artist’s inner need described by kandinsky in his concerning the spiritual in art, is on attack. indeed, justine ‘attacks’ a display of said artworks and replaces them all with ancient engravings like dürer, whose 1514 engraving melencolia I seems to be the inspiration for the name and the sci fi elements that crop up later, or ancient paintings of beheadings, apocalypse, holocausts.
a nihilist nightmare of the highest order, melencholia is a downward spiral, no solutions exist except escape, pleasure only exists in the sublime, all life is evil. but it’s also a soap opera, an on-the-fly mix up of delusion, demonization, disintegration, and annihilation. the futurist ideals, the middle class search for comfortable living is all for nothing, replaced with schwitters’ merzbau, a constructivist apocalypse of nothing. consider also, merzbau was annihilated by allied bombs. in the film, humanity is a growing, festering expression of the dark and the pointless, and must be eradicated. don’t see it in a positive mood like I did, see it after a somewhat traumatizing event, a failure at work or school or the death of someone close to you. the language of the film, besides copious amounts of cultural reference, is depression, and you must be somewhat depressed to understand.
this film is ultimately a piece of that world, a piece of the place that your mind goes when deprived of all life or energy or emotion. a film about nothing.