Meh. Thought it as alright. The entire thing was eerie, but the story just wasn’t there.
Antichrist needs to be seen because it shows so brilliantly the toll that depression takes on someone as talented as Lars von Trier. I mean, the movie is almost incomparably fucked, but that’s the emotion Lars felt while the movie was being made.
And that’s art.
i finally watched the film. its actually my first von trier. nothing interesting for me. and i definitely didnt need to see the cheap shocks of genital mutilation. the film didnt really start from anywhere and it didnt really go anywhere. it was just kind of a pointless circle. by the time she drilled a hole in his leg, without waking him up mind you, then bolted a weight to him through the hole, i was like, ok. now its just plain stupid. he lost me at that point. i dont have much use for a film named “antichrist” with drilling holes in peoples bodies and cutting off genitals and devilish-sounding animals that say “chaos reigns”. youre trying a tad bit too hard. less is definitely more.
on another note, im tired of chapter headings in films. cant wait until that goes out of fashion. its been done…and its been done.
There’s a review of AntiChrist by Andrew O’Hehir (one of my favorite critics) on Salon today. I haven’t seen the movie, and normally I wouldn’t comment on something I haven’t seen yet. But I think I’ve read every single word that’s been written about this film so far, and I have a feeling that O’Hehir’s analysis nails it.
I’ve read so much about it because I adore Willem Dafoe, and because I find the subjects of both von Trier and insanity quite fascinating. The first von Trier I saw was The Kingdom series, (probably on IFC) some years ago – I was hooked on it while it aired, loved it! I found it hilarious and bizarre, and tried fruitlessly to explain it to friends and family. I own the original two series on VHS, and I am such a purist I have never watched the Stephen King remake.
Then I saw Breaking the Waves, thought Emily Watson amazing; read a bit about the dogme film making style, thought it pretentious and pointless but I found the film brave, real, and heartbreaking. Dogville was next on my list, and then finally, just recently, I saw Dancer in the Dark. I loved Bork’s performance in that too, but hated her character’s arc. I was left thinking that this director has some really strange issues with women, but I’m not quite sure what they are. As a whole, I’ve been left underwhelmed with von Trier – I actually agree with the comments above this from Bobby Wise, that von Trier is trying too hard.
I would like to see AntiChrist, but I don’t want to see the mutilation images. It doesn’t matter how brief they are – violent images get processed by our brains differently. They get seared as photos in our minds much more readily than do other more benign images. I don’t know if it would be any worse or different than watching such graphic scenes in Cronenberg’s movies – some of which are decidedly unrealistic (Brood, Scanners), but others quite real (Eastern Promises, Dead Ringers) – but all of which I love. Maybe I’ve read too much on AntiChrist, and the violence has taken on disproportionate significance. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and some of it is particularly personally horrific to contemplate. Or maybe it’s what O’Hehir says: that von Trier has just gone around the bend!
“Antichrist”: Lars von Trier’s voyage into madness, by Andrew O’Hehir:
I just saw the film and really enjoyed reading Landon’s take from about a month ago. There’s a lot to this film that I’m still trying to digest and while I think it’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year, I need more time and a possible second viewing to really make up my mind. I appreciate all the analysis on the meaning and symbolism going on in the film and it’s quite obvious that at the very least, Von Trier knew what he was doing and was very bold in his commitment. I see a lot of comparisons to Breaking the Waves (which is the only other Von Trier film I’ve seen) but Antichrist is definitely a step forward for Lars.
Unlike most films, Antichrist forces you to think, forces you to actively participate in the images you are being shown. For that, I appreciate the film immensely and found it to be a refreshing experience.
Thanks Fredo. I actually just went down to an Arthouse in Chicago for a second viewing and brought three friends this time. It was such a fantasitc moment. This lady behind us started crying and left the theatre then ran back in a few minutes later for her purse! My friends liked it so much that they have been suggesting it to a ton of people and I think I’m actually gonna host an “Antichrist Night” at my house (since its going to be On Demand on Time Warner Cable starting tomorrow).
Its a real bummer to me that people are dismissing it so easily. I got such a powerful experience out of Antichrist.
One of the friends I brought is a serious horror fan. His room is covered in horror posters and he has a huge horror collection. By the end of Antichrist he told us he had to leave because he was going to be sick. The film just got under his skin in a way that normal horror films couldnt. He got all pale and said he felt sick and “couldnt watch the epilouge.”
Antichrist was kind of a wake up call to him. On the train ride home he said, “I never knew a movie could affect me like that.” And I think that pretty much sums up LvT’s Antichrist.
i guess its just one of those films that divides sharply. seems like either you love it, or you hate it. which probably means its either a staggering masterpiece, or a terrible film. my money’s on the latter.
i hate to generalize unfairly, or to stereotype, but any film with a talking dog (that wants to take itself seriously) seems to take itself out of the running for “masterpiece”, at least for me. but what do i know. i only know that im not interested in seeing a woman cut her clitoris off with scissors in extreme close-up.
Landon – I have to agree with your friend that I never knew a movie could affect me the way that Antichrist did (incidentally, I felt the same way after watching Where the Wild Things Are, for completely different reasons obviously). Antichrist is playing for two weeks here in LA and while I have a lot of screenings to go to because AFI Fest this weekend, I have decided I’m going to see Antichrist again.
I understand why people might dismiss it and I actually went in thinking I would hate the film. I don’t usually respond positively to graphic films or unconventional films but for whatever reason, Antichrist was an exception.
If you’re looking for good horror films, I’d recommend checking out The House of the Devil. It’s currently available ON DEMAND and is coming to theaters this weekend. It’s an excellent horror film and a throwback to the films from the 80s.
To indulge such cruelty I found wholly dispiriting. At times I had to look away. If this is a document of LVT’s crippling depression, I sincerely hope he prevails, heals and pulls through. The most persuasive writing on this film that I’ve seen has been by Ebert, and now O’Hehir. Ebert considers it to be a great film. Demented and deranged, but still great. O’Hehir says this derangement hinders it. I’m closer to O’Hehir. If this was merely an example of epater le bourgeoisie I’d be disgusted and promptly forget about having seen it (though the film most definitely wants to shock you). I’m not sure that this film possesses any kind of moral dimension. The dimension it limns is pitch black and sickeningly malignant. If anyone has located a moral aspect there, you’ll have to clue me in. Because I want to see Antichrist again about as much as I want to sit through Aftermath a second time. Yet I can’t stop thinking about it. If Antonin Artaud, besieged by the demons of his own confining insanity, had been given two willing actors and a camera, the resulting work may not have been very dissimilar from this. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
It’s hard for me to disagree with anything Bobby or KJ are saying here. I will say that you should see the movie before passing judgement Bobby, although I admit hearing about all the graphic scenes is enough to keep most people away from the theater. And I don’t really know if I can justify the talking fox or the penetration shots or the clipping of the clit and everything else. Would the film be as powerful if it wasn’t so graphic? Maybe. It’s hard for me to know. But what I can say is that the graphic elements did not impede my appreciation of the film; no, instead there are so many deeper elements going on here that disregarding the film because you see her cut her clit off seems almost superficial. The nature of man and the elements of behavior and instinct that von Trier is dealing with here is what interests me and specifically HOW he tells his story, from a cinematic angle, is something very unique. I don’t judge anybody for not liking this film; believe me that there are plenty of supposed “masterpieces” that have graphic elements that I find stupid (see Irreversible or Salo ) so I sympathize.
ive seen the film. thats why im passing judgment. but ill keep an open mind. maybe ill even see it again one day. and ill certainly look forward to seeing other von trier films, of which ive seen none.
I see where people are coming from when they say they hate this; whether for the cruel graphic scenes, the plot, the dialogue, the acting, or whatever other reasons, but for me, the reasons putting most people off are the reasons I love it.
I think many people are trying too hard to dissect the film using whatever knowledge they may [think] they’ve acquired during their years of film obsession, and it’s not providing a pleasant experience for watching.
Put all your know-how aside and just view the film for what it is. I had no expectations for this before or during my initial watching, and it’s what let me thoroughly enjoy it.
And on a side note, did anyone notice neither characters have a name?
“Put all your know how aside and just view the film for what it is”.
What is it, then? Absent “know how” how are you able to say what it is? On what basis are you formulating your response? Are we after pure experiences now? I stopped dropping acid a long time ago. How can one not have expectations prior to seeing this, especially if one has prior experience with LVT? You really enjoyed it and that’s great. Don’t accuse others of over-intellectualizing (except when they are). LVT is a serious dude and his work demands a certain orientation and a little work. You know, he’s not Michael Bay.
Bobby – I’m a retard. Had I noticed your comments at the top of the page, I would’ve seen that you’ve seen the movie.
The characters names were He and She.
>>And I don’t really know if I can justify the talking fox or the penetration shots or the clipping of the clit and everything else.<<
Not so worried about spoilers now that YOU’VE seen it, I see.
if youre worried about “spoilers,” youre on the wrong site.
“If what happens to them is natural or just plain insanity is up to you.”
I don’t really think is is left “up to you.” The film pretty clearly presents, through it’s emotive score and insistent images, itself as a parable suggesting that what happens within is a kind of truth. Parables are generally intended to be universal in their meanings. Von Trier does nothing to prevent the audience from walking away feeling that He and She are supposed to represent all of us. He and She’s nature is made up of grief, pain and despair and little else. What does this say about the rest of us? I realize the couple have suffered a terrible loss but when He tells She that you wouldn’t do anything under hypnosis that you wouldn’t normally do Von Trier seems to be reenforcing the notion that this film is the normal state of human beings.
If Von Trier is truly suffering from depression then i feel sorry for him but he has allowed his depression to greatly mar his art. The film is not pointless but it’s point is reprehensible. I think the focus on the close-up gore effects misses the real problem. Even if he had cut away from those shots and kept them offscreen we would still be watching a work that essentially celebrates despair as the natural state of life. I’m not all that interested to suggest ways the film could be better because I think it is inherently wrong headed but a good start would be to show that in cases like these one of most people’s biggest fears is that they will eventually get over their grief. Mothers who have experienced such a loss feel some of their deepest pain when they realize they have gone a couple of hours not thinking about their lost child. Anyway, none of that has much to do with AntiChrist because a true exploration of grief might not support Von Triers cynical agenda.
Antichrist seems informed by this notion from Emerson’s Nature:For nature is not always tricked in holiday attire, but the same scene which yesterday breathed perfume and glittered as for the frolic of the nymphs, is overspread with melancholy today.
Of course, as with most of these dark fables we never get to see the part in Antichrist with the “perfume” and glitter. More importantly, Emerson does not stand on this sad reflection but later reflects:The sordor and filths of nature, the sun shall dry up, and the wind exhale. As when the summer comes from the south; the snow banks melt, and the face of the earth becomes green before it, so shall the advancing spirit create it’s ornaments along it’s path, and carry with it the beauty it visits, and the song which enchants it; it shall draw beautiful faces, warm hearts, wise discourse, and heroic acts, around its way, until evil is no more seen.
But really, it is the constant flowing between these two perceptions that the greatest art possesses, and AntiChrist, by wallowing in misery, misses completely.
I am very late for the party here – which on most threads and commentaries is really an anti-Antichrist party. Saw this as a result of the Director’s Cup, so adding my own take on it to try to contradict some of the negativity and abuse this film seems to be getting on this forum.
I am not usually a fan of von Trier, as I often find him to be a bit overhanded in his approach. In this film, he goes right over the top and this has usually been taken in a negative context by most. I had read extensively about the film before seeing it, and was prepared for the graphic scenes, which I thought might disturb me or turn me against the film. However, I was so captivated from the very first scenes, with the lovely Rinaldo aria as a subtle commentary on the b&w cinematography, that I became mesmerized. I think this might be von Trier’s true masterpiece and this is why. Note: this is meant for those who have seen the film or read comments from others and are not disturbed by SPOILERS.
I posted here because I think Landon’s own analysis on page 2 of this thread is spot on. Antichrist is a film that is symbolic throughout with a strong allegorical intent. It is supernatural, surreal, a psychological horror story, and gothic – all at the same time. It is a film where all elements – visual, symbolic, and storyline – fit into a complex whole. There are many themes and images at work here, which this post cannot begin to do justice.
This is a story about the reactions to personal tragedy, where the wrong course is taken by both of the two characters. Gainsbourgh’s character is initially under a doctor’s supervision, but her husband arrogantly takes it upon himself to treat her illness – even though he is subject to the same grief. This has tragic consequences that resonate in every scene, as the two sink inevitably into madness and despair. Their relationship is put through the emotional wringer and both suffer as a result. She tells her husband how he has been distant throughout their relationship and he is now treating her as a textbook case because of his own arrogance and blindness. We quickly see where this is all leading, as the couple loses any potential bond and degenerate into increasingly bizarre behavior. They cannot escape their mutual madness because they are both incapable of dealing with their inner turmoil.
By Dafoe’s character trying to resolve things rationally, he mistakes the depths of his own wife’s fragile mental state. His actions – designed to help her confront her demons – drive her way over the edge.
This is all told through graphic scenes and a jarring juxtapostions of images and sounds. Acorns, rain, the wind, and hail all become menancing outside occurences mirroring the character’s psychological collapse. The various symbolic animals – each a concrete Jungian image (see Landon) – represent a cue to the inner collapse of their mental state. All the horrific natural metaphors and occurences also tip the scale into a surreal world where madness and chaos reigns. The three beggers are yet another indication of this, as is the hallucination of them as constellations in Dafoe’s sick mind. He knows that what he is seeing is not real, but his rationality can’t save him anymore. He and his wife are way too far gone.
The Eden they have come to seek is really just an ever deepening nightmare.
The theme of witches tied in with the theme of gynocide that is the wife’s thesis, underscore the allegory of women’s elemental sexual power that can be so threatening to men and stable society. This is but one of many themes resonating in this hugely dense film. The ending where Dafoe burns his own wife as a witch on the stake just confirms his own fears coming to life. Before, we see how his wife literally ties him to the ground – symbolically and metaphorically. She reacts to his overt rationality by the ultimate act of rebellion against this attempt of his to ‘tie her down’.
The epilogue makes clear that the women who have been wronged throughout history ultimately come back to reclaim their authority – inspite of Dafoe and the male power structure. This gives a strong feminist reading to the subtext of the film.
For me, all these elements work in a profound and sometimes disturbing way. I think von Trier feels that the cinematic artist needs to shake us up to awaken deeper themes often ignored in more conventional treatments. I also believe von Trier’s tribute to Tarkovsky is well-intentioned and appropriate. There are many visual and sound cues to Tarkovsky throughout. The scene where Defoe is standing in the woods in the pouring rain is a direct Tarkovsky reference, for example.
I have no idea why so many cinephiles here misunderstand and hate this film. To me, through its strong and original cinematic treatment, its tying in of symbols in an allegorical context – with too many biblical references to mention – shows how this is the most Tarkovskian of all von Trier’s films. Of course, he could have made it easier on his viewers by toning down certain graphic scenes, but great art always pushes at the envelope of viewer expectations to try to deepen and extend possible meaning. Think of Andrei Rublev here.
It is a film that resists easy dismissal. It is a film that resonates on several different levels – if approached with an open mind. I challenge all who do resist this film to try it again at a later time in life when its so—called shock value has worn off. Full marks to von Trier for extending his own cinematic language and giving us a challenging, thought-provoking film in such insipid times in terms of cinematic experimentation. He brings back the best of the 1960’s and 1970’s school of film-making with a punch. This is by far his most cerebral film. I hope it garners more respect in the future.
Thanks for your patience in reading through all this, irregardless of your personal take on the film. See also NEH’s own thread and comments on the film.
Just wanted to give my reasoning for posting above. I know long posts are usually frowned upon here, as for the most part, this is a place where most posters just like to dip in briefly before heading out. Sometimes, short is best, but for a more proper analysis of a controversial film, a bit of depth must be taken – at least, by me.
I try to always evaluate a film based on its own merits – without any thought as to other’s evaluations. To me, each film is hermetic – sealed upon itself. I look at a film on how well it fulfills its own terms, not necessarily in the context of other films including the director’s own filmography. I try not to allow pre-conceptions to spoil my judgement or appreciation.
Looking at each film individually means I am not as often distracted by miscellaneous comments or even my own prejudices. I try to give each film its due, based soley on what it achieves in its own context. I approached this film this way, even though I am generally lukewarm to von Trier’s other films that I have seen. I take him seriously as a film artist, in any case. I don’t believe he is a charlatan or just putting in things for shock effect. In this film, I do think he is right to acknowledge his debt to Tarkovsky.
Because so many here condemned this film before I saw it, I had to clear my mind. I hope those who have yet to see it can clear their’s, too.
I am always surprised and sometimes saddened when so many films I admire and love for various reasons are condemned out of hand here. Almost every film I admire and respect has been trashed by someone here. I guess I am just after different things in cinema than many others. I love to be taken to different – even very disturbing – places, if the film and its subject merit it. To me, the journey is an exploration – never a pre-determined arrival. Thanks all.
“The theme of witches tied in with the theme of gynocide that is the wife’s thesis, underscore the allegory of women’s elemental sexual power that can be so threatening to men and stable society………………………………….. Before, we see how his wife literally ties him to the ground – symbolically and metaphorically. She reacts to his overt rationality by the ultimate act of rebellion against this attempt of his to ‘tie her down’.
The epilogue makes clear that the women who have been wronged throughout history ultimately come back to reclaim their authority – inspite of Dafoe and the male power structure. This gives a strong feminist reading to the subtext of the film."
elemental sexual power? some women are accountants!
that’s interesting…(speaking as one) i thought it was quite against women because of the exact same elements you find empowering for women…hmmm…this “inspite of Dafoe and the male power structure” it’s the inspite bit that the film is reinforcing, it’s still positioning the male as something that deserves a reaction to..sort of “hey guys women can go mental too” rather than just “hey guys this women is nuts”. (acorns ha!) if this film is just about lars having a breakdown and his neurotic feelings about sex then that’s fine, even rather twee, but as a feminist film, which i’ve read a few people say, i just don’t get it…women can be ‘rational’. if charlotte had been the calm one and defoe losing it in some wild elemental uncontrollable way, that would have made me argue for a feminist film…
and don’t punch birds in the head!
I’ve heard much mocking of the scene with the fox people thinking it being indulgent which isn’t the case. von Trier suffers from severe depression, severe enough that he has to be hospitalized. The statement by the fox isn’t indulgent it’s a very direct and upfront attack. If you suffer from depression you know exactly what the statement “Chaos Reigns” means.
Also the film isn’t misogynistic at all, She is merely a victim of a male society. She differs very little from Mizoguchi’s female leads, they aren’t victims of there own undoing they are simply victims.
@ RLS In Mubiland I have no idea why so many cinephiles here misunderstand and hate this film……..It is a film that resists easy dismissal.
They hate what they don’t understand and easily dismiss it. It is vastly more obscure than a Tarkovsky film and that has to do with censorship – Tarkovsky could never have gotten this past Soviet censors.
@ twodeadmagpies (acorns ha!)
In alignment with the silly things to be found in a Tarkovsky film.
….defoe losing it in some wild elemental uncontrollable way, that would have made me argue for a feminist film…
Sally, did you see the film? it is a reading of the Apollonian vs Dionysian dichotomy.
The Greeks did not consider the two gods to be opposites or rivals. However, Parnassus, the mythical home of poetry and all art, was strongly associated with each of the two gods in separate legends.
aw no fair robert, that was two years ago. if i could edit old posts that would just read: ‘this is the last von trier film i will ever watch. i’d much prefer to watch his cute press interviews.’
it might be a reading of that dichotomy, but to me it’s a repellently humourless one and i’ve got better things to do with my viewing time.
Sorry Berjuan! LoverofCinemas asked for it!
Very few people out there know how to shoot a digital show like ADM, the film just looks gorgeous.
Now I do think sometimes old lars goes a little “too deep”, when his films feel completely drenched, slathered and oozing with his manic depressiveness, it can feel like a little “much” at times. I like him best when he doesn’t take himself “oh so seriously” and displays a little self-awareness for just how ridiculous he, life, and his films actually are (Dogville walks this tightrope very "grace"fully).
it is a reading of the Apollonian vs Dionysian dichotomy
Agree completely with Robert.
This is a film about opposites/opposition – more so than any other von Trier. The film is steeped in a dense, heavily-coded, almost Jungian language. It is also a trope of the horror genre, from von Trier’s skewered perspective. Sure, the film completely divides cinephiles. What good film doesn’t? We have many interpretations of the film on mubi – and in this thread some enlightening ones. Trying to define Antichrist and its rich (or disturbing) imagery is like trying to define the black monolith in 2001, the maze imagery and picture of Jack at the end in The Shining, the Room in Stalker, the whale in Werckmeister Harmonies. Sometimes, symbols work for people, sometime they don’t – especially as in Antichrist von Trier takes no prisoners.
Still, what IS fascinating is the huge range of hyperbole on all sides this film engenders. Surely, it takes the cake for most divisive film on mubi. See the 2010 Directors’ Cup voting thread for the film if you have any doubts.
Oh, and the fox represents Ouroboros – just so you know – ha!
I’m just kidding. I think Von Trier is an awesome filmmaker but this film is not one of his best.