Monday, January 25, 2010

Antichrist : a bloody film

On 27th October, we went to see the film ‘Antichrist’ directed by the Danish film director Lars von Trier. He is known for making strange and hard movies and this was certainly not an understatement in ‘Antichrist’.

Indeed, when the film started, the viewer was not spared as the first image was that of a penis entering a vagina. Erotic scenes were a definite part of the film although they were filmed with magnificence, never refraining from giving explicit details. This was the first time I saw love depicted in such a way at the cinema. However, one mustn’t imagine it was cheap pornography, quite the contrary; it was beautiful, a symbiosis between two people, a woman and a man. The first love scene was rendered in tones of grey with, in the background Handel’s music Lascia ch'io pianga (let me cry). What is more, the love scene was filmed in slow motion lending it a kind of romantic atmosphere. All throughout the film we saw the characters making love, sometimes in a more violent way or in very strange places. Only these elements made it a groundbreaking film.

Turning to something different now. There is one thing that was particularly shocking in the film, namely the violence. It was shocking not because it was hard to look at but because it was so human and at the same time mad. Charlotte Gainsbourg (the names of the characters were never given in the film) turns mad and smashes her husband’s testicles with a very big piece of wood and then starts drilling a hole in her husband’s leg before attaching a grindstone to it and throwing the wrench away so that he couldn’t free himself. Later she cuts off a piece of her clitoris out of despair. These scenes are not shocking because of what we see, they are shocking because we know that this could happen to all of us were we to become mad (which is always possible). The human part behind this violence is shocking, no one could escape this, because it is so real and so desperate. People who said the film was gory and pornographic were not very attentive in my opinion. Nevertheless, there was much more to the film.

Indeed, there were not only incredibly well orchestrated love scenes and violent moments that caught our attention, the images were also beautiful. The way the film was shot was marvellous, and this is not an overstatement. The scenes were filmed in an incredible manner, rendering all possible details useful to the understanding of the film (this was hugely necessary, for I only have questions about the story). As an example, the prologue[1] and the epilogue[2] were shot in tones of grey giving the scenes a beauty not often seen in other films.

Another element worth noting is the acting. This is, indeed, very important since the story was gruelling. The actors, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, were tremendous in their roles. As a spectator you really felt and understood their grief because of their acting. Above all, Charlotte Gainsbourg proved she is a great actress, her madness seemed authentic and genuine, her grief was tainted with despair, sorrow, pain, sadness and madness. She showed the spectators what extreme grief is. Expressing the feelings she had inside her in such a fashion really proves she is a great lady. Gainsbourg’s detractors should definitely see this film. What is more, Willem Dafoe was also convincing in his role as therapist and husband. He tried to think rationally whilst his wife was ruled by all the emotions that contributed to her madness. A brilliant actor as well.

As a conclusion, I can honestly say that this film is already one of my favourites. The mixture of human violence, beautiful sex, madness, incredible filming and terrific actors makes this film into a piece of genius. I had never seen a Lars von Trier film before ‘Antichrist’ and I don’t think it will be the last one I will see. however, this film will cause many a discussion about what is a good or a bad movie.

[1] In the prologue they are making love while their child is falling from the window.

[2] In the epilogue the husband comes down a hill and sees women (or witches) crawling up the hill.

No comments: