If movies are suppose to move you, then I recommend seeing Melancholia. It is a difficult movie - having to suffer the antics of Justine whose pretense at her wedding collapses; she is tedious at times and at least one person, unable to bear it, left the theater. But, enduring Part 1 turns out to be a prelude to what will follow as the focus shifts to her sister Claire and their inevitable fate. Justine becomes a dark anti-hero who graciously leads the way to a crushing conclusion. I am not giving anything away here since the first ten minutes of the film - breathtaking, surrealistic, mythic stills - storyboard the entire narrative.

These stills and the acting alone are worth your time. The movie received mediocre reviews, but having read a few, this can be explained by reviewers and perhaps an audience that doesn't appreciate the raw, dark, mysterious, irrational nature of the unconscious. After a night having "slept" on this movie, I am still disturbed and even haunted by its apocalyptic, nihilistic vision. "The earth is evil," says Justine, upset me, as did other elements in the story (especially her brother-in-laws' cowardice). But, I have to remind myself that Lars von Trier succeeded in realizing one of those latent fears hidden in the unconscious: the inability to avert collision - the ultimate failed coniunctio. Justine cannot connect in her wedding, her persona melts like wax. She is on a collision course that materializes in physical reality; "I know things" she declares: her foreknowledge of what's to come; to her fiance, "what did you expect?" Going a step further, we might entertain the possibility that the wedding sequence is no more than a prophetic dream, followed by it unfolding in Part 2.

Melancholia, to be sure, is not a crowd-pleaser and far from a perfect film. And yet, I feel its necessity, the need to visualize our worst fears. After all, here I am attempting to write a review; an attempt at sharing an experience that left me moved and ironically unable to shake off the fate that awaits us all. In this, Justine gives me courage, comforts me. Perhaps you can relate, disagree, elaborate, inform, argue...anything but leaving me alone in melancholia.

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  • Great review!

    I found the movie really disturbing in many ways. What could be interesting from an astrological viewpoint, for example, is that melancholia itself, traditionally placed in the Saturnian kingdom, in Von Trier's vision gradually seems to be taking on the blue color of Neptune. What's more, the bluer and bluer light of destructive planet Melancholia does correspond with Justine's condition which slowly shifts from a kind of Saturnian paralysis (Part 1) towards a Neptunian need to dissolve in some boundless and ego-less nirvana (Part 2). Should we start rethinking the archetypal associates of melancholia itself??       

    • I think not, but I appreciate your acute observation. Melancholia is, I believe, well placed in the Saturnian dimension. I rather think of Part 1 and 2 in terms of the relationship between the sisters; they are like planets, one bright, the other dark. Part 1 features Justine who is other worldly while in Part 2 we discover Claire who is more earthy and emotional. In the end the trio is completed by a third orbiting moon, the young boy. Together they create their own little world, one that they can control while submitting their fate to a larger reality.

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