Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Antichrist

I thought I'd start the A - Z challenge off with a real bang and review one of the most confrontational films I've viewed in my career.  It's been 3 years since I saw it, and I still couldn't tell you if it's the most brilliant piece of film making ever, or the most hideous.  But it certainly is memorable....


Denmark, 2009
Running Length: 104 minutes
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Director:  Lars von Trier
Screenplay: Lars von Trier
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle

Lars von Trier has always divided audiences with his vision.  I personally have both loved (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark) and hated (The Idiots) his work.  With Antichrist he has gone beyond anything he, and perhaps any other filmmaker has done before.

The opening section, the prologue, is in black and white and plays out in slow motion.  A couple make passionate love, moving through various rooms of the house.  Meanwhile, mesmerised by the beauty of falling snow outside, their young son toddles to a window and falls to his death on the concrete below.

Tormented by grief, He and She try to deal with the death together.  He is a therapist, and breaking all the professional ethics associated with the profession, decides he can do a better job with his wife than anyone else.  In the guise of therapy he begins controlling her, eventually convincing her to go to a cottage in the woods to get away from it all.

In the woods, nature itself is shown to be corrupt.  The image of a doe by a river is undermined by the presence of a dead fawn hanging from her uterus.  Beauty and horror go hand in hand here.  Having been drawn in with sympathy for the pair, the horrors they mete on each other curdle that sympathy into something I can only call revulsion.  The film is graphic.  Both sex and torture play out without any holds barred.  It is confrontational, disturbing and I found myself at several points having to cover my eyes with my hands.

It is difficult to imagine any other actors being brave enough to take on the roles of He and She.  Both Dafoe and Gainsbourg are known to take risks in their performances, but this film asks them to do a lot more than just risk. 

By the end of this film you will be shattered, both physically and emotionally.  I can’t tell you yet if I loved it or hated it, but whatever my eventual decision is, you know it won’t be lukewarm!


  1. The way you describe it reminds me of the Nic Roeg film Don't Look Now, thematically at least.


  2. wow - pretty sure that's not one I need to see. I'm glad you were brave enough to watch it and review it though.

  3. I haven't heard of this one, but I don't think I'll be checking it out. Sounds like something that will give me disturbing dreams for weeks.

  4. When a reviewer says they had to cover their eyes, several times, not sure that's a movie I want to see. I like that you included that information in your review, it tells me a lot.

  5. I haven't seen this, but films like this fascinate me, despite their dark edges (and middles). I'm definitely going to have to check this out.


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  6. William Dafoe? He can be intense and I usually like his movies, but this sounds too intense for him.

  7. Wow, that movie has some powerful images. I don't think I could sit through it.

  8. From your description it sounds pretty intense. Not sure I could handle the uber graphic nature of this movie, though. Excellent description and commentary!

  9. Yikes! This one sounds icky and reminds me of the Gone Girl book everyone's talking about. Both seem to have a premise of: why do people who supposedly love each other do such terrible things?
    Neither the book nor the film appeal to me, but I have plenty of weird tastes in other things! lol

  10. Yeah...I think I'll pass. I just can't watch movies like that - there's enough sadness IRL. I'd rather watch a comedy or a Pixar movie.

    Looking forward to a month of movie reviews, though!

  11. I love scary movies, but I end up with my eyes covered most of the time too. Especially the graphic stuff. Makes me cringe.

  12. Oh my, this sounds frightening! Don't know that I want to leave a theatre physically and emotionally shattered. Interesting post.

  13. Yikes! I know I'd spend most of the film covering my face. Straight-out monster horror I can do with no problems, but anything showing the actual depravity of humans is too much for me!

  14. A Fan's Cut

    This is my blog on how Great Films Could Have Been Made Differently.

    if you have time then please take a look.

    I'm also looking to collaborate with a screenwriter.

    Comments are welcome

    Sorry for disturbing,thanks.

  15. Obviously a memorable movie... haven't decided if I want to see it but I have loved some of the most controversial movies Defoe has done.

  16. Wow! Not a lot of love for challenging films, huh? Interesting.... But useful to know! I'm afraid I don't see much in the way of mainstream, feel-good cinema, so a lot of the reviews here will be about the tougher, more obscure pieces of cinema.