Melancholia- Lars Von Trier
In class discussions about the film afterwards I did think that the idea that this was some sort of Sci-Fi genre film was perhaps a little off track. For me the film makes sense as a sort of mish-mash of Bergman (Fanny and Alexander) serious family drama, Four Weddings and a Funeral /Richard Curtis Rom Com...ie series of disasters around a wedding. He explores the rituals of human society: the wedding ritual, rituals and rules of behaviour, and the rituals of family, rules rituals of success in the workplace and career. He takes these rituals and the pre-conceptions of mental normalcy and then proceeds to plant a giant turd on the top of it all. Everything is subverted: the parents are almost totally useless and undependable, the wedding is an absolute shambles on all levels, her career in advertising is revealed as being corrupt and amoral, Claire's husband commits suicide out of despair, portrayed as an act of absolute cowardice. By the end of the film the only social construct left standing is really the close relationship of the sisters Justine and Claire and their desire to protect the son. Everything else is razed to the ground!
Ultimately Earths' collision with Melancholia is not something to be scared of, this is definitely a happy ending film i.e. not a disastrous Armageddon in some sort of Sci-fi genre. The use of Wagner's Liebestod music (musicologically controversial as it is!) creates a link in my mind to The Ring of the Niebelungen: Brunnhilde's Immolation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JgMt8GWdyU or the end of Twilight of the Gods https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL5J-jh00HQ The film is about a battle between the Gods, the Gods that we create i.e. the laws/customs/rituals we create. The intersection and collision between Earth and Melancholia , and Claire, Justine and the boy huddling in the "cave" made of silver birch sticks is about purification through destruction. Claire sees the deeper reality of existence (she knows the number of the beans) , she is thrown around throughout the film by the forces of conservatism and convention. She feels that she needs to behave in certain ways, get married, work at her job even on her wedding night, she needs to smile and has so much pressure to be happy with everything that she has and with everything that has been given to her. The films narrative arc centres on Justine's growth from a kind of victim of the forces of human society to one of freedom and ultimate purity. She is quite likely a simulacrum of von Trier himself, in fact the trinity of Claire, Justine and Tim (the boy) are almost like a sacred trinity of father (justine) and Mother (Claire the carer) and Tim the christ child. Hmmm not sure quite where I'm going with that!??
This blog is my process journal for my Master's course at AFTRS