47 – Melancholia

“I know things. And when I say we’re alone, we’re alone. Life is only on earth, and not for long. “

The title of this blog is 50 Apocalyptic films you MUST see before the Apocalypse, that would suggest that these are 50 films I would recommend, however, this is a film I wouldn’t necessary recommend, but I chose it simply to show the eclectic mix of films that are contained in the world of apocalyptic films. In fact this film was recommended to me on the basis that you get to see Kirsten Dunst topless, now I’ve got your attention! But oh my it was a slog to get to that money shot. It took me all of three sittings to get through this film

Melancholia is a Lars Von Trier written and directed film telling the story of two sisters, and their strained relationship, while a mysterious new planet called Melancholia heads towards earth. The opening eight minutes of the film is mesmerizing, dialogue free, slow motion visually compelling, set to the music of Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, simply stunning

The film is then separated into two distinct halves, titled with the sisters names, the first is called Justine, which is Kirsten Dunst’s character, this is set on her wedding day, and shows an opulent reception, Lars Von Trier is showing here the meaningless rituals that us humans undertake, never more so than during a wedding which is surrounded in rituals of speeches, and cutting of the cake. When we strip away the romanticism of a wedding, we are left with trite meaningless ritual. We come to see that Justine is suffering from a deep depression, this may well be an extension of Von Trier’s own bleak outlook on life, and the name of the planet that is heading to earth is obviously no coincidence. This section is a prolonged look as Justine breaks down her own wedding ceremony.

Part two deals more with the planet heading to earth and the reaction to it from the main protagonists, Justine has went further into her depression, she is totally nihilistic, expressing that “The earth is evil. We don’t need to grieve for it. ” she literally bathes in the apocalyptic light of Melancholia, as it heads to earth. (The money shot guys) Keifer Sutherland plays Justine’s brother-in-law, he sees Melancholia as flying by, and it will be beautiful. The scientists have stated this as true and proved all the soothsayers wrong.While Claire, Justine’s sister is sceptical, and is worried by the planet, Lars Von Trier has the characters have a home-made instrument to show us first Melancholia getting further away, then approach again. The real world parallel now is the worlds financial crisis, the government constantly telling us the worst is over, and blinkered the people all hope they are right, but the impending doom is looming over us.

On the apocalyptic motif front, we have animals who can sense the doom before humans, this is witnessed in a number of films, not only any animals, but here Lars Von Trier uses horses, as in the four horsemen, that signal the apocalypse. On the other hand we have no tv’s or radios telling us about the outside world, and the reactions, we only have the characters on-screen, this can be argued then that this is an extension of Justines illness, and may not be an apocalyptic event after all. Why else would a 19th hole suddenly appear on what was clearly stated as an 18 hole golf course earlier in the film, is all what it seems?

Melancholia will be hard work for a lot of viewers, it is a very depressing film, certainly not a view on life I share myself, I think for this reason it certainly is an apocalyptic film, however Von Trier is using the apocalyptic event as his depressing way out, the cataclysmic event is better than the ritual of life, I would not recommend this to most people, however as the clip above shows, the film is stunning, and this will go down as one of the most beautiful of apocalyptic films.

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