Melancholia (2011)

“Melancholia” (2011)

IMDb

horse, breasts, collision

There is the idea of film as a collective creation, each creative mind (actor, cinematographer, writer, director…) bringing his own input into the final result, often overseen by a “producer”, the surrogate of an “industry”. Than there’s the author way to do it, where one guy, or a very reduced number of aligned minds create everything that you see. But than there are films which are the face of its maker, inside out, as if you were actually inside his or her mind. That’s where Trier’s films fit in. These experiences can be life-changing, or absolutely dull, depending on the seduction of the mind we’re entering.

I’ve always had a hard relation with Lars von Trier. The man has skill, in the pure visual tools of cinema, framing, editing, timing. He did studied the masters well enough to produce a valid visual experience almost always. He does understand film as a full experience, sound to dialogue, framing to rhythm. And that deserves admiration, it’s so rare to find one filmmaker who really cares about every bit of filmmaking. I was never very much into the Dogma thing. And i don’t think Trier ever made a film that truly obeyed to his own premises. That’s not necessarily bad.

But than he has quirks that are just so vulgar and dull. He is self-absorbed in a way that makes him assume that every minor obsession or phobia that he may have is worth telling, and we are obliged to appreciate. He has this Wagnerian idea of being a master whose eccentricities have to be tolerated in the name of genius he necessarily spreads whenever he turns his camera on. So it’s curious that he tried to integrate Wagner into this film. The bit he chooses is the opening of a truly ground-breaking, life-changing work. And that pretty much exposes Trier’s weaknesses. His greatest strength and what binds this is the bit of genius borrowed from Wagner. It’s pretty interesting that the initial sequence is so related to Malick’s Tree of Life, since it’s clear that one film was probably no influenced by the other. Nice to think where these trends might come from.

But then, the concept is dull. 2 planets colliding, 2 sisters colliding, the world around them falling apart, as collateral damage. The men in those women’s lives are supposed to have important roles, but both are just pawns, and absolutely clueless about what’s happening. Kiefer’s character is even supposed to “know” about stars, but falls very far from truly understanding their magical power, reducing everything to a matter of numbers.

All this located in a special place, isolated yet alive, concrete yet undefined. The sense of place is important, and that is well explored, and underlined by how the horse denies crossing the bridge.

The odd relation between Dunst and her horse also has an assumed sexuality that escapes the understanding of her fiancé. And Dunst’s breasts seem to be on top of Trier’s preoccupations all the way. Check the bride’s dress, check how the camera always lingers towards her cleavage, even when that should be but another element of the set. And check how the music and climax are pointed to the first time we gaze at her, fully naked, bathing in moonlight.

I admit that the whole thing is well framed by the initial and ending sequences. But all the rest is just shallow, and the whole experience ultimately worthless. Even if Trier in all his will to be polemic doesn’t think so.

My opinion: 2/5

This comment on IMDb

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