This time it was that glorious epiphany-type connect. From reading Stephen Davis’ Morrison biography Life, Legend, Death to highlighting the books Morrison used to carry with himself wherever he went, to reading one of them i.e. Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil and finally being led into the very mind-numbing evil itself, yes, Lars Von Trier.
Incidentally, when I was reading Neitzsche’s B and E, Chap. III p.47 where he talks about religious moods and saints,
"in the background of the most recent philosophy, that of Schopenhauer, we find almost as the problem in itself, this terrible note of interrogation of the religious crisis and awakening. How is the negation of will POSSIBLE? how is the saint possible?—that seems to have been the very question with which Schopenhauer made a start and became a philosopher. And thus it was a genuine Schopenhauerian consequence, that his most convinced adherent (perhaps also his last, as far as Germany is concerned), namely, Richard Wagner, should bring his own life− work to an end just here.."
Perhaps what’s more interesting is this thematic cloud that Trier has chosen to end the world with.
Earlier this year, Ebert recorded in his journals, that of Trier’s Cannes visit, as neutrally as he tries, there seems to be a confident dismissal of a crazy nut of a man , just like how Trier has chosen to dismiss almost everything in this world crazy nut of a world, his films being exceptions. The journal ends with how the crowd wished for Malick to be present and Trier to go away. If only Malick shows up people would know his art upheaval and versions of the world. Who knows what that can bring up? Melancholia certainly more than matches up the positivism and humanity yearned for in Tree of Life.
Trier is one of those very few sincere ones hoping for an apocalyptic 2012, if not praying solemnly for it, in blue melancholy. In terms of recurring philosophy, one must be content that Mr. Trier is one of those stubborn upon his existential explanation, clear if not confident about his clinical depression and for what it’s worth, he had all his fun on that crazy drunken night that Antichrist was. For post-Antichrist, I honestly thought he had lost all coherence. A sense of reassurance atleast with respect to that, in Melancholia. Ofcourse, given to the highly unsociable Trier and his stubborn individualistic viewpoints, this sci-fi film is remotely conventionally-sci-fi. One cannot expect a city from War of the Worlds to be ransacked and thousands of people thrown around crying.
Trier’s two-part drama is, visually, his most stunning work. In fact, this time, he made what he wanted to see, for real, the bigger picture of it all. The extinction of it all, the futility behind it and the execution grandiose finale- a sense of receiving, a coming to the audience. The film begins with what seems to be paintings/aural visuals in motion (an arbitrary kitschy tool in Antichrist and a failed one now it seems), the beautiful bride forced/pulled to the Earth by roots of nature, mankind accepting impending doom, which comes through the dance of a deadly but friendly blue planet (much bigger than the Earth) crashing onto the Earth, destroying it or rather dissipating it into the oblivion. So, to sum-up, an astronomical apocalypse with a dash of Kubrick-an audacity and excerpts from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in the background. Then, he would start rendering his story around this.
The film comes with a newly-wed couple Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) struggling to turn around a long white limo, uphill a winding road and each has to take their turn (the driver, the husband and the wife) before they arrive late to their wedding party in what appears to be a big estate of sorts where her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) lives with her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) and son Leo. Just when you think whatinthefucksname, Trier gets uncomfortably close to the Hollywood Wedding Movies stupor involving speeches and toasts. If you closely notice there are hardly 10 tables around (Trier can’t manage more than that I guess).
But in all this he quietly dispositions all that is about to crumble. All it needs is a drunk dad, Dexter played by John Hurt to talk about his marriage-on-the-verge to the public. His wife gets up calling it a load of crap firstly into his accusations and gets into more about the lack of ambition in Justine, which as a domineering mother she publicly appreciates in Claire. Charlotte Rampling as Gaby, the critical mother fueling sibling-complex, trying to pull down Justine on her own marriage, calling it something that should be enjoyed while it lasts. While Claire simultaneously proud of her mother’s public comment about she arranging a fabulous “partay” comes around to take control, she shouts back at her mother’s speech when she goes over board, “Why did you even bother coming” perhaps John’s friends are there because he’s seen munching in controlled anger. Note: John calls both his wife’s female family members, bitches, to his own wife. Soon you’ll know the interludes that connect this wonderfully fucked-up family.
As Trier breaks his knuckles one by one of the familial bourgeois-dysfunctional, one becomes aware of all that’s selfish and exists as a farce in a family(Festen?). Before you know it, a deep-set ground-reality along with melancholy sets within the bride (clinically depressed) and nothing would change this, not even a husband in love and is willing to express his care, not even a lucrative , prospective career offer in advertising (Stellan Skarsgard in a cameo-corporate, Jack), not even a drunken-happy-bear-of-a-dad who knows only to desert his daughter on her wedding night for buxom women who go by the name Betty before the dessert’s been set.
There is a high point of humour underneath all this, perhaps that’s where all the melancholic grief could be yielded, for the depressed could laugh at the pointlessness of it all. Marriage, Money, Family , Sex disregarded distributed, Art carelessly rearranged even Science suicidal in shame.
The second act pulls the duality seen between Claire and Justine to the center-stage. Earlier with respect to the chaos reigns, the bean lottery, considered as a man made chaos game, Udo Kier (as an insignificant butler) when explaining that there were 678 beans and no one guessed it right (all the guests came pretty close), this incredibly trivial matter seems to be thrown away and somehow comes up in the second act- an intentional calibration. The other would be John, a fellow-manager of the apocalypse, giving hope to Claire-like people, the intelligent scientific man who studies things, almost proud and humble at the same time watching Melancholia pass away, but can’t live minutes watching it approach. (Nietzsche’s satyr?). Also among many things came an astrological reference, when Justine finds Taurus missing in the constellation, sitting on Abraham (the horse), reminds us that Kirsten Dunst ,who also appears to be in depression while shooting and Lars von Trier share the same sun sign (Taurus), oh wait same birthday.
As the knowing of the impending dawns, it’s interesting how Claire tries to exist. It was all about wailing and crying with her son’s future held in her arms and a whole run around the estate in futility and exhaustion. In fact, till the very end, Claire seems to suffer with Melancholia’s arrival, as all three (Justine, Claire and Leo) are washed with it’s blue atmosphere. Even Justine claims she tried earlier in human normalcy- she kindly asks, “Well, what did you expect?” to Michael about her marriage and meekly asserts “Well, I tried” to her sister about her trying to be happy. Everyone tries, some give up sooner than most.
As a melancholic pristine Justine watches over suffering humanity, Claire, nascent innocence (Leo) has it’s eyes closed. Melancholia crashes, silence. Trier really has made his statement this time. Well, he tried.
We could choose to be Michael and gracefully shoulder our coats over and walk away.
Depression could be understood, not shared, or atleast one can hope.
Sigh, Meanwhile, Watch this, TRIERchuckle.