Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #89 Antichrist

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 11:43 PM

Movie #89 Antichrist

(2009, Denmark, d. Lars Von Trier)

It’s hard to throw praise on a film most often noted in the public sphere for its gruesome and graphic scenes of genitalia mutilation. But I think Antichrist is far and away more than the sum of its parts. From its black and white prologue set to the operatic Lascia Ch’io Pangia by Handel Rinaldo depicting a couple making passionate love as their child in the other room accidentally falls to his death to the strangely redeeming final act set in the evil woods of Eden, Lars von Trier takes the audience on an emotional journey through the three stages of mourning: grief, pain, and despair. He sets the story up with He (Willem Dafoe) bringing She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) into the Woods she is so afraid of to help her overcome the fear that is surrounding her mourning. As He tries to help She more and more as a therapist, He begins to fall as well into the pit of despair and perhaps, evil, that the Woods represents. Is Satan amongst them? Or are they going crazy? Though it can stand for what it is as a very bizarre look at an unfortunate event of mourning, I also read deeper into the film than maybe what was intentioned. For me the movie felt like an ode to von Trier’s relationship to his actors in his films and the entire filmmaking process they begin to define. The therapist is von Trier as he probes his wife in such a way a director would probe an actor with questions to illicit a certain response. But the more and more He begins to guide She, the more and more He turns to face the darker side of Life, eventually taking over his whole being. Perhaps von Trier is commenting on the personal destinations his filmmaking has taken him and his actors, but even though the fate of the characters did not bode well, one can feel a sense of pride in the look Dafoe gives at the end and the way the tone of the film feels. I think it is von Trier realizing he has escaped from the pit to create something of wonder.

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