Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past


Toronto International Film Festival 2011: 'Melancholia'

Bookmark and Share
Wednesday, Sep 14, 2011
"The earth is evil. We don't need to grieve for it." So declares a luminous Kirsten Dunst in Danish provocateur Lars von Trier's best and most powerful film yet.

Director: Lars von Trier
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling
Country: Denmark / Sweden / France / Germany

“The earth is evil. We don’t need to grieve for it.” So declares a luminous Kirsten Dunst in Danish provocateur Lars von Trier’s best and most powerful film yet. In this dreamy meditation on depression—how it afflicts the sufferer, how it hurts those closest to them, and how little one can do to stop it once it comes sweeping toward you—we follow a pair of sisters as they hunker down on their palatial estate to await the end of the world.
Following a gorgeously rendered ten-minute introductory segment comprised of intense apocalyptic imagery over the foreboding strains of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, the film offers two distinct segments. The first follows Dunst’s shambling descent into a catastrophic fit of depression (on the night of her wedding, no less). The second follows Dunst’s sister as she comes to terms with the inevitability of the coming holocaust. If both sections are connected thematically it is that both lead inexorably toward a disaster which, in each case is shattering.

This is, in short, a film that demands your attention, and your patience. If it all feels a little absurd—the world is about to end because a planet quite unsubtly called “Melancholia” is on a collision course, after all—it shouldn’t keep you from engaging with the searing imagery and striking work from the dream cast of leads and supporters. Charlotte Gainsborough and Kirsten Dunst in particular give tremendously mature, subtle performances, while John Hurt as their playful but distant father runs away with much of the first half.



Related Articles
15 Jan 2015
The fully realized five hour version of Lars Von Trier's Nymph()maniac feels as worthy of revisits as your copy of Crime and Punishment or Ulysses.
7 Dec 2014
Lars Von Trier’s cinema, particularly in Breaking the Waves, is an acknowledgement of film as an offshoot of literature and the heritage of storytelling.
17 Oct 2014
Even with all its XXX gimmickry, Nymph()maniac remains grounded in character. From someone like Von Trier, we'd expect nothing less, and we even get a lot more.
4 Aug 2014
In film, "visionary" has become a marketing adjective, like "iconic". Here, on the matter of visionary directors, we separate the claret from the beaujolais, if you will.
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2015 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.