Lars Von Trier
In Lars von Triers horror epic Antichrist, we see a tale of He (Willem Defoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsborough) lose their son Nic due to a terrible accident that occurred whilst they were occupied in a sensual display of sexual intercourse. The death of their child sets the scene for the three chapters of emotions that follow; grief, pain and despair.
GRIEF: As She suffers the loss of her son, He, as a therapist, manipulates her into becoming his subject, where he aims to help her conquer her fear of nature. He does this by taking her to their log cabin in the woods, aptly named Eden. While walking through the woods He comes across a doe. The doe shows no fear towards him. Instead, she walks off on her own accord exposing a stillborn fawn still hanging from her. Both She and the doe are suffering from the loss of a child; the doe, physically and She, mentally.
PAIN: Through sessions of psychotherapy, her affliction seems to become more painful, which she treats with forceful sex. The area surrounding Eden seems to be reflective of her illness and the man becomes extremely conscious of the ominous atmosphere triggered by the falling acorns that shower the roof or the ticks that he finds one morning attached to his hand. This chapter closes with He finding a fox amongst the grass gnawing at the flesh of his own body, who then turns to him and says in a deep, profound voice “Chaos Reigns”. Once again, the self-eviscerating fox is symbolic of Her gnawing at her own conscious.
DESPAIR: He soon recognises that her fear does not stem from Eden but stems from Satan, who He eventually works out is himself. Through a series of revelations, she accuses him of leaving her and attacks him in the goriest way a man can possibly be attacked. After He wakes up to his leg being attached to a grindstone, he drags himself out of the house and into the forest, following the sound of a crow. The crow, which popularly represents death, is the final message Trier gives his audience to foreshadow what is to come in the next chapter.
I’ll refrain from speaking about the final chapter, that’s one you’ll have to watch yourself. But, I’ll speak about the movie as a whole. When creating this movie Trier was suffering from depression. This is evident in the three emotions he speaks of, but also through the strange and horrific storyline which is undeniably nonconformist. Essentially the film explores emotion, and as individuals we experience the same emotions in different ways. Perhaps this was the intention of the director, to affect each viewer differently depending on their perception of the explored emotions; grief, pain and despair.
director LARS VON TRIER
director of photography ANTHONY DOD MANTLE
cast WILLEM DAFOE and CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG
words PRIYESH PATEL
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