Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Not having seen the companion pieces to this, and being unfamiliar with the various public von Trier episodes, and also my ignorance regarding manic depression renders me as but a pair of eyes before a spectacle, it was nevertheless a worthy cinema outing.

The film, in its length and tone, is indulgent, rather as Tree of Life, and the parallels I would draw between the film go further. Both legitimise their indulgence as an expression of the grief of their characters, both concern the decadent wealthy, both define themselves against hard men, both have ambitions to cast the aches of the human condition onto a cosmic canvas, both spend the length of the film waiting for death. And I enjoyed both, considerably.

Untouchable unhealth. The film, largely, leaves undiscussed melancholia as clinical condition of imbalanced biochemistry except to consider the aspect of mental health highlighted by the strained, even slapstick moments where the wedding-planner steers to avoid looking at Justine. For Justine, wishing-the-earth-would-swallow-you-up leads self-fulfillingly to a self-destructive self-exclusion. But further, and crucially, the fear, by others, of melancholia as leprosy - as contagious - constructs an apartheid. How plan we our weddings, whom do we exclude and who are our planners? Who are we that we should turn a blind eye to depression? Who are we to make untouchable those wounded victims of a vicious world?

But there is for discussion more mileage in melancholia as philosophy and as social reality. So.

You are your eschatology. This is the purpose of beginning with the end: the notion that our stories track out intractably towards our foregone fated destinations with a mechanical inevitability. But more than that, what you look for you will find: we believe in an end, and we will it into being. And this is by choice, by belief in a fatal fatalism, that we are resigned to and complicit in our future tense definitions.

Environmentalism and the end of God's world. The Earth's cruel inglorious end, fading to silence, coming to nothing: does Justine know this will happen? Then the atheists are right. Does she cause it to happen? Then the atheists are to blame? I earnestly believe that among the reasons for the failure of environmental rhetoric is the failure to convince the carbon burning public that anything other than annihilation awaits them and all of planet earth. Of environmentalism, only future hope and its present joy-of-anticipation can move us to the present sacrifice needed for future salvation. Please believe.

I have been simplistic.

There's no driver at the wheel. The elegantly absurd stretch limo sequence establishes our difficult relationship with the God who may be there but is yet silent. This incompetent God hands the reins to a sentimental groom who hands the reins to melancholia who promptly crashes spaceship earth into a rock on the side of the road.

This very night your life will be demanded from you. You aesthetes, this is the tragic demise that moping preraphaelite hipsters predicate their decadence on. This is a film for a double dip recession, whose brief reprieve is the undoing of men who have identities built on and defined by doom denial. It is John's false confidences that collapse face down in a horse's stall.

Nothing tastes. The tragedy of bigger barn builders is not simply a moral tale for the end of time, it is a tragedy in the now. Affluenza's ruinous ruin sees us, with all our trappings, in dresses like the clouds of a planet, bounding in slow motion through the garden of space where everything is heavy, all tastes like ashes, all is but an entanglement of grey yarn through which we trudge. Ours will be a slow death by slow motion, as when an LP's turntable is unplugged, we spin slowly slower to a stop, unplugged from joy we wind down to flatline.

Sex and death. As the camera here pours obsessively and too close over Dunst, the whole film is a tailback crawling past a car wreck, oh curious beings-unto-death are we. Lust lusts after that which is death in the other? Justine, a type of Salome, parallels the planet in her destructive force, and in her being the subject of voyeurism, we see the power of Melancholia to captivate through the telescope as through illicit websites. Melancholia renders Justine exhibitionist and delayed-gratification-averse. Are we, do we? Parallels abound for we are planets crashing.

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