It’s certainly not von Trier’s best.
He’s been much more assured in other works.
But it’s his hesitation, his uncertainty, even his own fear of what he’s writing about, that i think makes the film powerful, & important.
Blue. Once again, faulty logic. No one has to wait a minute.
The word “sophomoric” stands alone in the same way that “pretentious” stands alone. Because of its specific definition.
You neglected to acknowledge the statement: “And to use a word like “sophomoric” is demeaning, & in effect “sophomoric” in its sadism.”
Again, derailment. Tit for tat.
The film IS more than it’s images, it IS more than its shock-value; the film has frightening implications about the nature of mankind which have already been brought up.
The word “sophomoric” doesn’t stand alone any more than the word “immature” would. You might dislike the usage of the word “sophomoric” more, but that doesn’t make the word somehow more uniquely vulnerable to the particular criticism you’re leveling at it. The exact same argument could be made against using the word “immature.”
So unless you NEVER use adjectives which make value judgments—I think we all do from time to time—it’s kind of pointless to call someone else out for it. I suppose a grand philosophical argument against using all adjectives with pejorative definitions could be made. But who in the world could ever claim to not ever use such modifiers from time to time?
Funny that upon looking it up, i just found that the synonyms for ‘sophomoric’ include ‘pretentious’, & ‘juvenile’ :) How apropos.
& yes, to label something “immature” is immature in its false sense of superiority, in my opinion.
& yes, i was making a grand philosophical argument against using all pejoratives.
I’ll take a dull positive word over a descriptive negative word any day of the year.
Ah, ok, NEH. Thanks. I take it that this means that you NEVER use pejorative words. I haven’t gotten to that level of maturity and enlightenment. And I have a feeling that I never will get to that level of near perfection when I never use such words again. I wonder how many human beings in history ever achieved that level anyway. But it’s very good to know that you’re already there that you can pontificate about it. I’ll try to never use such words again in any threads where you’re present. I’m very sorry.
This is the exact reason why we decided to post threads of reviews in the first place.
Conversations like this. Sarcasm & degradation like that.
Thank you. I’ve learned now to never entice someone into a side-debate on semantics.
Next time I’ll just let it fly & ignore it.
Also, sure, I try my darnedest not to use pejorative words, like “pontificate”.
I’ll be sure to keep that in mind as we continue to try to improve this forum as a respectable place to discuss film.
I wonder, does using those down-looking words make you feel better?
We got ANOTHER Antichrist thread?! Ha! I guess it’s better than another QT thread. I’ll have to read through this later. You can never have too much von Trier discussion!
Just be careful what modifiers you use to describe the facets of the film. No pejorative modifiers are allowed.
PS: You have got to love the fact that a poster gets trashed for using one pejorative term—“sophomoric”, gasp, oh how negative, boo!!!—to describe the deliberately polemical aspects of a film which advances one of the most pejorative, negative viewpoints on humanity and nature ever put on celluloid. Hahahaha. Talk about real irony.
I love irony.
id like to go back to the point about provocateurs, and being important because they reminds us we care about life.
i understand the statement, and cant wholly disagree with it. lets take a film like “sweet movie”, in relation to this idea and “antichrist.” there are some scenes in makavejev’s film that i wont even watch. i literally turn my head away so i wont throw up. but i respect the film as a great work, and i even think it contains some of the best sequences of makavejev’s career.
makavejev also related something close to the idea that to offend is to wake up a sense in the audience, to remind them that they care about life (if they are in fact offended). again, i understand the theory. maybe we should discuss more the thought of seeing, wanting to see, or forcing oneself to confront offensive images. what are the limits? the benefits and downfalls?
does an image of a penis spitting up blood, or a clitoris being cut off, remind us that we care about life? same question goes for watching someone eat or drink human waste.
“the idea that to offend is to wake up a sense in the audience, to remind them that they care about life.”
That sounds like a bunch of hooey to me.
Bobby: No – it IS sophomoric and immature to pontificate that we CARE about life by being reminded of an image of a penis spitting up blood or a clitoris being cut off. Equally as juvenile to watch someone eat or drink human waste.
I agree with Bobby, to a great extent. I’d like to tackle those questions “what are the limits/benefits/downfalls” after I’ve woken up a bit. though i must say i appreciate this statement to the utmost: “i literally turn my head away so i wont throw up. but i respect the film as a great work, and i even think it contains some of the best sequences of makavejev’s career.”
Nohea, unfortunately I must disagree. It’s never just a single image, like the example being used, that is meant to get an audience to think &-or ‘care’. It is the film as a whole. We don’t look at a 3" by 3" square of a painting & then judge it by that portion. It is a genre film, in a genre known for its brutality & often for its mutilation of the human body. An act which is all too human. Humans are horrifying creatures that have a history of mutilating each other. Sad but true. Also, a word like ‘pontificate’ doesn’t really apply since we’re talking about a wordless scene.
Similarly, Sweet Movie is not a film about eating waste just as Antichrist is not a film about mutilation. If I may, I’d oversimplify it by saying Sweet Movie is a film about freedom of expression & Antichrist is a film about the dark side of human nature. Both brought to us by directors who’s theories on “waking up” an audience included showing them the extremities of their subjects.To take any one scene & magnify it, no matter how shocking, is not only to ignore & deny the rest of the film, it is too focus on exactly that which you hate, which I hear is unhealthy. Haha. Kidding. (Probably is though) Why don’t we all take cue from Wise & look to appreciate the non-violent aspects of the film? And then question the validity of the violence you seem so adverse to? Or would that run counter to the films method?
It is von Trier’s trademark middle-finger.
The premise being “What is the nature of evil”. Well, that’s not a premise, let’s call it a thesis statement. One so broad and ill defined that I have to be skeptical of this being anything more than Van Trier’s self indulgence.
well, i dont think id call makavejev juvenile. though he does have a good and mischievous sense of humor. but the fact remains: i myself have no interest in seeing those images. truth be told, i’m sure there are other ways that a director can wake me to a sense of caring about the world. but still, i have to wonder whats relevant and what isnt. whats necessary and whats excess.
again, i wouldnt call “antichrist” a genre film. it does have elements of the psychological thriller, but it doesnt seem to play by the rules of genre. its something else altogether.
also, i never said that we should appreciate the non-violent aspects of the film. i dont really consider “antichrist” or “sweet movie” to be violent films. not violence in a superficial meaning of a multitude of violent acts. they do most certainly wake the viewer up in a “violent” way though.
Well, i feel misread.
Doinel, i did not say “What is the nature of evil” i said “What if nature is evil?” which is a different idea altogether, & yes, which is more of a thesis statement than a premise, but its more interesting than “a couple goes to the woods…etc”. Also, I never stated that a middle-finger does a great artist makes. I was merely pointing out that, like the credits of Dogville, his middle-finger is reoccurring. Haha.
Bobby, i never said you said that, exactly, i said “take cue”, i was sort of synthesizing your approach (which i appreciated) & lending it to my response of K’s.
What does it matter?
This topic’s gone to hell & back anyway (no pun intended)
I should not have started this thread.
Fuck me for seeing a film that made me think about human nature.
Yes Neh, I apologize, that was a misreading. I’ll stay with the basic criticism however.
A series of sensational images is not going to add much to the age old philosophic inquiry into the idea of evil.
It might be more useful to ask Lars how the intensity of the image develops his idea rather than his reputation.
I would rather ask the question, just as I’d ask it about something like Irreversible, what purpose does graphic exaggeration do other than remind us that we are particularly inquisitive but rather bored stiff.
“I should not have started this thread.”
Sure you should have. It’s a new film by a somewhat important filmmaker and worth discussing. You should, however, have expected strong reaction if for no other reason than the reactions it has already received at festivals.
“i did not say “What is the nature of evil” i said “What if nature is evil?”
I suppose this film was not made for me if that is what it is exploring. I find the entire discussion of good and evil to be tiresome. I think when talented artists, as opposed to say, George Lucas, approach this subject we believe they are discussing something that is valid to adults because their imagery is powerful and disturbing and their craftsmanship is top notch. Unfortunately, talent and craftsmanship do nothing to change the fact that the notion of good and evil is inherently silly. The last eight years alone should tell us that whether it is a dumb politician talking about an “axis of evil” or a scholar writing a 200 page dissertation on what evil is they are both engaging in childish dichotomies that don’t exist. Nature, human or otherwise, isn’t good or evil and by reducing it’s complexity to these labels an artist is regressing rather than progressing.
Mike – I don’t know about that. The widely held belief (from the Bible?) is that we are inherantly good (and only become evil based on environment, etc.- my dad molested me, I wasn’t hugged enough as a child, whatever). So flipping that and pondering the notion that we are inherantly evil is an interesting notion. That seemed to be what Eden was in the movie, right? I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about this in an intellectual level, at least not in a realistic way dealing with relationships and how we interact with people. Did this movie succeed in eliciting some questions about human nature? Yes, for me it did. Human nature, why we do what we do, why we behave the way we behave, is precisely what I look for in art. Now, von Trier is coming at it from a completely different direction than Todd Field or John Cassavetes. But the similarities are there: the interest that all these guys have in the human condition.
We should probably take this somewhere else because these things tend to derail threads:) However…
“Human nature, why we do what we do, why we behave the way we behave, is precisely what I look for in art.”
For me, Sociology (as the study of what we do) > Psychology (Why we do what we do). I don’t think Cassavetes was at all interested in Psychology. I can’t speak to Todd Field.
It may be an interesting notion to consider our inherent evil but the question has been around for several thousand years.
The question of nature being evil goes back to Aquinas and before.
I don’t know what Lars has done to advance the discussion but what he has NOT done is ask any new questions.
He’s a master provocateur but he has a lot less to do with Tarkovsky than he does William Castle.
“Chaos reigns”, philosophic question or a marketing stunt?
for me “chaos reigns” is weak. it was one of the problems of the film. obviously thats one of his “grand” statements. its reflected in the title (and every intertitle), and a talking fox with hanging entrails hammers the point home oh so subtly. so is that it? is that what he wants to say? theres chaos in the world. and??
heavy handed symbolism just isnt for me. and i felt that the whole film was about this.
One poster said that LvT’s dedication to Tarkovsky was sincere and I agree. But most people seem to feel that it was some aesthetic reference, and I think that’s where we all get lost. If you read Tarkovsky’s book Sculpting in Time and watch his self-confessed best work The Mirror (not Solaris as I saw one Antichrist reviewer reference!), you get a bit closer to understanding both more about the dedication, and I think too, about Antichrist as a film.
I made some notes a few months ago before and after seeing Antichrist at the Russian premier in St Pete:
“It helps to try not to see Antichrist as hermeneutic – filled with symbols there for the deciphering – and instead a composition born of images and dynamics from within LvT’s psyche, ones that he himself would have a job understanding; this mode of creative expression is very Tarkovskyian and transcends the deliberately symbolic. The Mirror represented Tarkovsky’s great catharsis – he told all involved in the project that this film was purely for himself about himself, hence the title (see the interview with Aleksandr Misharin, his supporting writer, on Artificial Eye’s The Mirror DVD for more) – and indeed in watching the film, you can feel how he is, through dream rather than rationale, both celebrating the purity of his childhood, mourning its passing, and filling the film with apology for not having lived his adulthood with the love he learnt then. And with an indulgent release of guilt, sorrow and care, he builds a film entirely from his soul’s pangs more as a poet would build a work than a film-maker; and indeed the final result is a poem more than a film (something Tarkovsky felt the true language of film should be akin to – especially haikku). Now if one reads a poem and finds darkness as perturbing as Antichrist, one would think less of it (Georg Trakl is a good example that springs to mind but there are many more). I feel LvT was just drawing from the same, pain-filled, ‘poetic’ source of creativity.
Regarding the female element in both films: Tarkovsky’s mother is central to the emotion in The Mirror (and she even performs in it). Lars von Trier admits to having made Antichrist to help him get over his depression of 2 years ago – and it is known widely (in Denmark at least) that he had a torrid relationship with his mother during childhood – I would argue that during therapy a good deal of his childhood angst against his mother came to the surface and found its way into his art: making this film was central to his catharsis. Lars von Trier, I believe, understood what The Mirror represented to Tarkovsky, how no other consideration bore the film forward than the need to express all that one’s childhood carries into and through one’s adult life. He thanked Tarkovsky in his dedication for this insight.
It is also no accident that both The Mirror and Antichrist take place in a family house in the middle of a natural nowhere – indeed the house in the Mirror was a detailed reconstruction of the actual house Tarkovsky was raised in. LvT’s calling his house Eden, is as much a reference to the beginning of his life, as that of mankind’s – and his attacks on nature are reflective of his attacks on womankind (his mother), and not the other way round – at least that’s how I see it.
Of course, the similarities between The Mirror and Antichrist end pretty quickly when we move past the whole and into the details. I’d say that was simply because Tarkovsky’s childhood was a good deal more loving and supportive than Von Trier’s: in The Mirror we get a film of sentient beauty, in Von Trier’s one of rage and despair – indeed LvT says this is a scream in film form – and he means not of horror I believe, but of deep personal anguish. I applaud his honesty, and Tarkovsky I am sure would also, and though Tarkovsky abhorred excessive violence in film, he would understand why it came to Lars von Trier’s Antichrist better than many of us do."
Just my thoughts – feel free to attack/agree/ignore.
Well what is “Antichrist” about. Now granted, with a title like that he’s set the bar pretty high but let’s compare it to a film like “Maborosi”. Daft comparison? No, both have there foundation in the story of a reactive depressive.
Koreeda’s film has a pretty good following here and for good reason. And in the end he produces a visually compelling film and a very sympathetic film that doesn’t become maudlin.
Now the bad boy is not going to be satisfied with that. Rather than just telling a simply substantive narrative he’s going to ramp up the gore because that will help him claim profundity. Now exactly what is profound here? Maybe I missed the theme. Possibly despite Lars’ claim that he was depressed (poor Lars, hey MAN UP) this may be all about original sin or something equally profound. Remember, the violence is intense so unless you want to admit that you got taken by a three card monte operator this has got to be PROFOUND.
Well poor Lars does protest too much. Sorry Lars, the potty training must have been tough indeed, but this is all gross self indulgence.
Female genital mutilation is necessary to convey your “deep personal anguish”. Please, stop enabling this man.
What is Antichrist about? Does it make it less of a film if noone can say? Can you say with surety what every great film you see is really about, or why it is ‘profound’? And I never heard LvT reference his film as profound – and neither should it need to be, honest is enough.
Self-indulgence is a point I can agree with – though wouldn’t you prefer a film-maker to indulge his own (inner)self than his viewers’? And I feel we should “enable” film makers who have the courage to do this, regardless of how distasteful the result may be at times (think Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou and even Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange): in demanding anything different we are denying them their honesty, and following that their freedom as artists – and god knows there are enough in the movie-industry trying to do that already.
Unless some theater in my area does a truly surprising bit of programming I won’t see this until it comes to DVD, but I found an intriguing analysis on another board which sees a reverse Genesis in the story line. He & She’s son dies while She is impregnated with another child thus echoing the Cain-Abel bible story (though here the younger child effectively killes the older) & they then go to Eden. The genital mutilations which She inflicts render her inacpable of enjoying sex and him incapable of procreation thus effectively returning them to the “innocent” pre-apple Adam & Eve. The analysis is a good bit more detailed than that but I though those discussing the film here might want to bat that around for a bit.
After watching this film, I’m never going to have sex again.
I came away from Antichrist with a bit of personal let-down.
For months I had been waiting for it—this visceral thing that shocked a jaded press screening into attacking and haranguing the director. And like a giddy child, I was waiting the morning of New York Film Festival to see it before Von Trier himself would tower over us in all his digital cinematic beauty.
But two things happened:
1) I came away with the sense that this was no where near as violent or horrifying as it grew to on blogs and through Twitter. Spectacle had over-hyped my senses. I wasn’t in awe or shocked. Though this leads to…
2) This is a film about forgiveness and making amends. When I say forgiveness, I don’t mean the basic apology. I mean Von Trier overcoming his long-standing “abuse” in fiction of his female characters, personifying himself as He, and She making him “forgive.” Of course, He ultimately kills her to ward this off. And walking through Eden, as the roots and brush turn into what I took to be She, the nature of Woman finally overtook He in the Epilogue and forced him to “forgive” Her for all the abuse, grandstanding and posturing that He performed.
Well it seems this topic will not die any time soon. I agree with Blue K on this one when he said, “He is obviously trying to make some kind of statement on nature and evil and humanity, but his incredibly sophomoric shock jock tactics take away from any kind of serious examination.”