Thursday, November 17, 2011

Luco & Melancholia

Did you see Lars von Trier's movie Antichrist? If not, and if you have a strong constitution, it is a worthy endeavor to view this film. However, it is, well, bleak (and that is a determination of "bleak" coming from me). Some critics have accused von Trier of being misogynistic due to aspects of plot and characterization in Antichrist. After viewing it, I had to agree. Well, and I mean, did you see Dogville? Breaking the Waves? Women do not often fare well in von Trier films. They do not often thrive.

As a feline feminist (it is my hope that the preciousness of that title does not take away from the seriousness of what I am about to say), I have struggled with my own ambivalence regarding von Trier; I have both deeply loved and deeply hated his work. Melanchola, his new movie, pushed me up on the gradient nearer "love."

Melancholia is also centered around women, but it leaves me with a sense of von Trier's delicate misanthropy (as opposed to misogyny - what I mean is, at least in Melancholia both women and men act badly and are punished). That is to say, he seems to be in possession of a hatred of humanity (and really all life) that also acknowledges moments of tenderness. "I hate you so much sometimes" will be followed by a scene of sisters holding hands.

I do not know how familiar you are with this movie, but it is at its heart an end-of-the-world film. It is humorous to me because the prison guard and her husband have been watching the Nova series "The Fabric of the Cosmos." This series is about space and time and spacetime and the universe. In short, it makes a happy bedfellow to Melancholia.

Why, you ask, do I lay them down together in the same queen sized bed, gently tucking in a feather comforter around them before climbing up and sleeping in between their legs?

Because both deal with possibilities. Grapple with what it means to be alive. The skewed ways in which we see ourselves; the skewed ways we see the world around us.

The episode of "The Fabric of the Cosmos" we watched last night was called "The Illusion of Time." The host, Brian Greene, posits that theoretically all time exists at once - there is no real separation between past, present, and future; they all happen concurrently. We see life like an "arrow of time" - as progressing forever forward - perhaps due to the nature of entropy. We see ourselves and our world moving always from order to disorder.

And Greene suggests time travel possible. This fills me with an immeasurable amount of wonder, but I will save my ode to time travel for another entry (allow me, quickly, to note that I believe time travel to be one of the most romantic and intriguing ideas ever).

This idea of time fits into the movie Melancholia in many ways, the most relevant of which seems to me to be the way we perceive time as we experience trauma.

The world seems to slow. We become aware of everything around us. The click of the air conditioner, the  tapping of a coworker's keyboard, the dim music suddenly discernible as a car tumbles by our street.

And Melancholia seems to suggest that different people deal with death/disaster/disappointment (if you'll excuse the alliteration), in different ways, some better equipped to cope with loss than others. It even seems to argue that a depressed person is best fit to contend with tragedy. A depressed person will not lie to herself. She understands life inherently meaningless. 

She already wishes herself erased. Dreams expanses of void.

What does it mean for me that Lars von Trier arguably proves with his movie that the depressed creature is the best suited to life and to death?

It means I am the champion, my friend.