There are themes and images in Melancholia that directly allude to those in Antichrist.
1) reluctant crossing of a bridge
2) aroused naked women lying in the wilderness
3) falling objects in slow motion (acorns and birds)
4) overt allusions to Tarkovsky (Antichrist and Stalker, Melancholia and Sacrifice, stumbling horses, Bruegel paintings
1) nature/life is evil
2) Man’s struggle for control of nature
3) mental breakdowns
And Trier has made trilogies in the past.
Should we be expecting one more von Trier film related to these two? If so, I can’t wait.
Hopefully not, I won’t be able to endure yet another piece of trash.
I’m a fan. Check out this piece from the latest issue of Senses of Cinema.
The article was very helpful, but only to an extent because the only von Trier films I’ve seen are Melancholia and Antichrist. So, could these two films be placed together in an “official” trilogy to be finished later, or are they just steps in a longer unsegmented progression of films focused on the same things?
Well, “Antichrist” and “Melancholia” are two further variations of Lars von Trier’s idea of the (self-)destructive woman around which most of his films center, in that sense the so-called trilogy (if it’s going to be one) is nothing new in his oevre. The misanthropy and pseudo-nihilism is certainly stronger here than in his previous works though, and other aspects that unite “Antichrist” and “Melancholia” are the esthetics, a mix of advertising clip and hand-held camera shots, as well as the unrealistic dialogues and poor character development. I’d suggest to check out “Breaking the Waves”, “Dancer in the Dark” and “Medea” all of which were made at a time when Lars von Trier still deserved his reputation.
Self-destructive or self-sacrificing?
I think the self-destruction can be found in most of his films, though in some cases it can also be interpreted as a sacrifice (most strikingly in “Breaking the Waves”), threreby drawing heavily on Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan. As mentioned by Michael above the allusions to Tarkovsky’s “Sacrifice” also come into play in “Antichrist” and “Melancholia”.
To me, von Trier, in comparison to most other directors, is much more diverse in his films or at least seems so be, based on the various genres he plays with. I haven’t seen all his films, but from those I’ve seen, indeed Antichrist and Melancholia are much more thematically alike than all the rest. So, it’s an interesting idea and could very well be correct.
Trier goes through phases that are usually trilogy-length, though he lost his erection (understandably) after Manderlay. When I saw that Melancholia looked and felt identical to Antichrist, it was something less than a surprise.
What with the premise of his upcoming “The Nymphomaniac”, it only makes sense.
@Charles, I’d agree that “The Nymphomaniac” suggests a continuation of this trend.
And, as for the original post on this thread, i think that “aroused naked women lying in the wilderness” is only at the surface of what’s going on. These films seem to me to have a lot in common in this regard, but I think that the “arousal” and the “wilderness” are very closely linked.
In Antichrist, “She” taps into this sort of masochistic, misogynistic energy when she first goes to Eden, and her response to the death of her child (endless and increasingly violent sex) is disturbing, and exactly the opposite of what we would typically expect. Usually, the mystery of female sexuality is linked to its reproductive capacity, but in this film its the opposite, and the mystery of aggressive female sexuality is borne out of the destruction of the product of the act of sex.
In Melancholia, there is a sort of similar response. Justine is sort of desexualized in the bedroom with her husband, but is hyper sexualized when she meets the young man outside on the golf course. Past that, her Melancholia-bathing seems to me to have a sort of sexual sublimation to it. Her nudity out in the natural world suggests a link between her disturbing sexual behavior and nature itself, which is not exactly on par with the former film but is certainly related to it.
I think the most unifying link is what these depictions of sexuality mean for males. As far as the male characters in the films go, there are quite obviously negative connotations. “He” is a literal victim of this sort of unnatural sexuality on the part of “She,” and Justine’s husband eventually flees her. More than that, something having to do with her mystic sexuality allows her to embrace the end of the world, while Kiefer Sutherland’s character is powerless with only his logic, and ultimately kills himself as a result of that powerlessness.
Not sure if this means that von Trier fears female sexuality, or that he thinks that men do, or that he thinks that his male viewers do, or what. (Also, I made a very similar post to this on a related thread, so I apologize for anyone who might have read that and has just experienced deja vu).
Here is a meaningful Antichrist analysis
very illuminating article Chavdar. Thanks
I’ve heard criticism that von Trier’s latest films look like perfume commercials.
Is von Trier playing with that criticism by making the main character of Melancholia a designer of advertisements?