Friday, October 16, 2009

Antichrist 2009 Revisited: chaos, increase!

We have two human beings isolated from any other human contact, surrounded by a vastness of nature. The conifers and ferns stretch endlessly. Animals cry. The trees angrily hurl acorns on the cottage roof  like stones. It rains as though it were a billion years ago.

It is a drama of confrontation and interaction distilled to the barest of essentials that the film tries to expose. There are three forces in apposition: He, She and It. The dead child is the burden of the past.

The civilised element dissolves rapidly in the distance from society and merges into the primeval cries of the forest. The jungle and its wild inhabitants are not passive elements but seem to be in a dynamic interaction with the human protagonists.

 It is appropriately named Eden-perhaps Antieden would be right- for it's human population is just the two of them and the whole garden is theirs in which to love and hate. They are the highly educated products of a modern society and in that sense already traded their original innocence for a forbidden fruit.The widerness, as if it were in response, sends back ferocious echoes in the form of hellish animal symbols: the aborting doe, the disembowelled fox,  the entombed crow.

The vestments of socialisation are quickly shorn. It is primitive man surrounded by a menacing jungle inhabited by fickle and blood thirsty dieties in animal form.

He has only intelligence to govern over his inner wilderness: the volcanoes, canyons and stormy seas of his soul. There is no law to follow, no faith to anchor on. There is no Christ. Hence it is the realm of pure nature, Antichrist.

Von Trier has probably made a very personal, autobiographical and very religious film. A mixture of genius, abnormal upbringing and the absense of anchors, religious or otherwise, himself a victim of depression, he has produced a difficult, powerful and layered statement about the depth of human need.  It is a very troubled cry, this great film.

11 comments:

Literary Dreamer said...

This sounds like one of those movies that you only want to see once, but having seen it once, you'll never forget it. Except that you saw it at least twice. :-)

S. M. Rana said...

Literary Dreamer:

In fact some parts are rather tough and you want to look the other way. But it seems to me that through his own life, Von Trier has tried to make important philosophical observations about the human life condition. I am likely to endure it once more.

vivek said...

I'm a big Lars von Trier fan. But haven't decided if I want to see this.

S M Rana said...

Some of the parts are quite hard to watch and one is inclined to go to fast forward mode. This is the only movie of his I've seen (twice) and I took it on as a kind of challenge. Another waiting to be re-viewed is Synecdoche which was rather depressing the first time.

Anonymous said...

@Vivek.
Particularly at home!

Randy Masters said...

I'm not sure, either, if I'll see this film. I missed it at CIFF. I'm not even sure if it will come to a theater near me. I may not have to choose...

etheriel said...

I think I will see this sometime down the line...but not right now.

Ronak M Soni said...

I just watched it, an amazing movie. It's highly effective, without actually descending to beauty. A meditation on the end of humanity, I thought; these two are to the Antichrist as Adam and Eve are to the Christ. And Dafoe's face as he looks at the faceless masses of people walking towards Eden is well nigh unforgettable. And so much more! I'm writing about this right now, and your two reviews might have just given me the impetus I needed to continue. I never realised how good they were till just now.

Gaurav said...

It is gloriously photographed, and the opening sequence is effective. But after that, the film spirals into nothing but a sequence of jumbled and incoherent images which really lead the film nowhere. It is tempting to read symbolism but I feel that while this was a daring attempt, it is a highly flawed one that fails to achieve a cinematic vision.

Nathanael Hood said...

Chaos Reigns!

\m/(>_<)\m/
\m/(>_<)\m/
\m/(>_<)\m/
\m/(>_<)\m/
\m/(>_<)\m/

S. M. Rana said...

@Nathan: No intention of seeing it a million times.