The Melancholia of Kirsten Dunst and Lars von Trier


“Gray wool, clinging to my legs, it’s heavy to carry along”

The disastrous wedding reception of the severely depressed Justine precedes the end of the world, depicted as a highly stylized and artistic event feared by some but welcomed by others. Kirsten Dunst plays the role of von Trier‘s own melancholia, which was the inspiration for his film.

The image above occurred out of context, at the very beginning, during the bombastic Wagnerian apocalyptic prelude to Part One, “Justine” and Part 2, “Claire.” We don’t hear Justine say those words until later, when she had lost the ability to care for herself. “She should be hospitalized,” I thought at the time, and wondered why no one was getting her psychiatric help. But then we wouldn’t have a movie that deals with internal struggle and suffering.

Melancholia is also the name of the giant blue planet that destroys the Earth.


A beautiful movie about the end of the world


It was like waking from a dream: my producer showed me a suggestion for a poster. “What is that?” I ask. ”It’s a film you’ve made!” she replies. ”I hope not,” I stammer. Trailers are shown … stills … it looks like shit. I’m shaken.

Don’t get me wrong … I’ve worked on the film for two years. With great pleasure. But perhaps I’ve deceived myself. Let myself be tempted. Not that anyone has done anything wrong … on the contrary, everybody has worked loyally and with talent toward the goal defined by me alone. But when my producer presents me with the cold facts, a shiver runs down my spine.

This is cream on cream. A woman’s film! I feel ready to reject the film like a wrongly transplanted organ.

But what was it I wanted? With a state of mind as my starting point, I desired to dive headlong into the abyss of German romanticism. Wagner in spades. That much I know. But is that not just another way of expressing defeat? Defeat to the lowest of cinematic common denominators? Romance is abused in all sorts of endlessly dull ways in mainstream products.

Lars von Trier, Copenhagen, April 13, 2011.




2 thoughts on “The Melancholia of Kirsten Dunst and Lars von Trier

  1. Melancholia was a long movie (over 2 hrs) but didn’t seem it. I thought it would be worth seeing again to catch references I might have missed the first time. After finding a close-up of that gray wool image above, I thought it would be interesting to watch the beginning… and here it is, on YouTube: Melancholia Prologue the other hand, "nothing to reflect on" is exactly how I felt after seeing Contagion. It was entertaining to watch, in that Hollywood movie way, but any possible ambiguity was neatly wrapped up at the end. Completely forgettable.

    • That comment was in reply to Jason Snyder:

      Thank you for keeping me up to date on the latest in pop culture. I was just lamenting how everyone always lives happily ever after. This was refreshing.

      Actually, as I watched it, it seemed good and all but as if not much was happening. Then as I was walking home it was clear that so much had happened. Exact opposite of everything I usually watch these days, where so much is happening during the movie and then when it’s all done, it’s clear that nothing really significant happened at all. Nothing to reflect on.

      […a comment that did not survive the great Posterous-to-Wordpress migration.]

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