Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some random thoughts about Melancholia

We've been showing a film at the cinema called Melancholia. It's by Danish director Lars von Trier who is perhaps one of the most polarizing directors out there. On a purely personal level I can say I have loved or even adored several of his films, while loathing others. And I loved Melancholia. It's beautiful, deep, sad, complex and above all, heartbreakingly human. Yet in almost every session people walk out.

For some, it's the hand-held camera. It makes some people feel queasy and I get that. Other people come out saying they're bored. The film is too slow. I've had a few people tell me it's the worst film they ever saw. One lady was quite indignant about it, demanding to know why we'd programme such a bad film. I never know what to say to someone asking that. "Um.... I really liked it. So did the Cannes Film Festival jury. And the Association of Film Critics."????

But anyway, what I really wanted to talk about in relation to this film, is the ending, and how without any dialogue or even any movement, the actors show exactly who they are.

If you know anything about the film, you'll know a rogue star called Melancholia is hurtling toward Earth. In the final scene two sisters and the son of one of them, wait to see if the star will hit. One sister is chronically depressed and she looks almost happy. She sits with her eyes closed, a small smile on her face, waiting for the oblivion to come. The child holds her hand, his own eyes closed, trusting that the grownups know what's going on and will protect him. His mother, who knows there is nothing she can do to protect him if the star does hit, is anguished. She doesn't close her eyes. She watches. She cries. She clings to her family and contorts her body as she tries to find the best way to keep her son safe.

It's excellent characterization and ties together all the elements of the characters that have been revealed in the previous 2 hours. And it's so simple. I wish I could write like that....

Have you seen Melancholia? What did you think? Are you a lover or a hater? Why?


  1. I haven't seen it, but I've heard it's a pretty powerful portrayal of depression. Do you agree with those who feel Kristen Dunst should have gotten an acting nod?

  2. I'll have to look for it. Sounds like an interesting piece of cinema.

  3. I have not seen it, but I do love it when an author ends a book that is so perfectly true to the characters.

  4. Wow! I haven't even seen it, but just from the way you described the end, I wish I could write like that too. Sounds incredible. I love it when people can show so much like that.

  5. Somehow it's easier to capture in an image. Images are so much simpler than words... I guess that's why they say a picture is worth 1000 words.