Dir. Lars von Trier
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
You hear the one about the deer, the fox and the crow – creatures in the service of Satan’s Church or ‘Nature’ whose dominion is chaos and whose way is sexual guilt? No? Well if you venture past the extreme hype and reaction of the critics, the cries of horror from the media *cough Daily Mail cough* and the reactionary masses who like to throw stones without actually seeing the film itself… step into the freaky, gorgeously shot, heavily psychoanalytic Antichrist – as a Christian I simply could not pass up the opportunity to see a film with such an intriguing title!?
Before I go on - I feel compelled to reprint what the esteemed (if utterly blinkered)
Christopher Hart, writing for the Daily Mail says:
"You do not need to see Lars von Trier's Antichrist (which is released later this week) to know how revolting it is.
I haven't seen it myself, nor shall I - and I speak as a broad-minded arts critic, strongly libertarian in tendency. But merely reading about Antichrist is stomach-turning, and enough to form a judgment."
If that's true then potentially you'll never need to see another film in your life... just read the reviews and be happy with that!? Anyway, back to the "sick, pretentious trash, fully confirming our jihadist enemies' view of us as a society in the last stages of corruption and decay." Read his whole rant here...
Lars von Trier is the complex Danish director of Dancer in the Dark and Dogville – self proclaimed ‘Greatest film director in the world’… His latest film is a strange emotionally charged dive through the looking-glass into a feminine universe of victimization, guilt and sexual energy, dressed up in the trappings of a body shock horror mixed with slow burning character interaction and deep exploration of trauma.
Willem Dafoe gets to flash his knob and generally feel the wrath of mentally unhinged femininity after he and his wife lose their child through a tragic accident (a startling prologue shot in black and white, which runs in slow motion and shows the couple engaged in non simulated sex whilst their young boy climbs out of their window and falls to his death). Did the wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) see the child putting himself in peril but was too engrossed in her orgasm to bother to save him? That’s what it seems to be saying… Is she crazy? Uncaring? Murderous even? Yes this is strong stuff and it is not subtly told. It is engaging and highly thought provoking though.
Nature is actually one of the main characters here, with the aforementioned deer symbolising fertility mixed with death (the clue is her dead young bambi hanging from her vulva): the fox symbolising lucidity and tasked with warning of the rule of chaos - "CHAOS RULES!" he shouts at one point; and then there’s the crow, potentially riffing on the regeneration mythos of The Crow (great film) transfiguring death through decomposition and stubborn clinging to life.
The film unfolds in a series of titled chapters – ‘Grief’ is the first and follows the crushing repercussions of the parents trying (and failing in her case) to come to terms with the grief. Fortunately, or not so actually, the father is a psychotherapist who wants to try his hand at therapy on his wife… Not necessarily a good idea…
This leads to the chapter – ‘Pain’ (Chaos Reigns) where go back to the cabin in the woods where she went to write her thesis on the way that the church has traditionally victimised women – especially those who they deemed overly sexual or powerful (witches?).
The chapters – ‘Despair’ (Gynocide) and – ‘The Three Beggars’ wrap up this veritable freak show in a swirling descent into madness with graphic violence. You’ll squirm, you’ll cringe and possibly like one viewer in the screening I saw this at shout “You’ve got to be F88king joking!” This isn’t a feel good or easy film to watch – most of what you might have heard about the self mutilation and general hardcore grimness is warranted, is it overkill? Is the director simply trying to see how far you can go on screen? Quite possibly…
Perhaps reading The Three Beggars, by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), in full will help your comprehension of the film – so here it is:
"Though to my feathers in the wet,
I have stood here from break of day.
I have not found a thing to eat,
For only rubbish comes my way.
Am I to live on lebeen-lone?'
Muttered the old crane of Gort.
"For all my pains on lebeen-lone?'
King Guaire walked amid his court
The palace-yard and river-side
And there to three old beggars said,
"You that have wandered far and wide
Can ravel out what's in my head.
Do men who least desire get most,
Or get the most who most desire?'
A beggar said, "They get the most
Whom man or devil cannot tire,
And what could make their muscles taut
Unless desire had made them so?'
But Guaire laughed with secret thought,
"If that be true as it seems true,
One of you three is a rich man,
For he shall have a thousand pounds
Who is first asleep, if but he can
Sleep before the third noon sounds."
And thereon, merry as a bird
With his old thoughts, King Guaire went
From river-side and palace-yard
And left them to their argument.
"And if I win,' one beggar said,
'Though I am old I shall persuade
A pretty girl to share my bed';
The second: "I shall learn a trade';
The third: "I'll hurry' to the course
Among the other gentlemen,
And lay it all upon a horse';
The second: "I have thought again:
A farmer has more dignity.'
One to another sighed and cried:
The exorbitant dreams of beggary.
That idleness had borne to pride,
Sang through their teeth from noon to noon;
And when the sccond twilight brought
The frenzy of the beggars' moon
None closed his blood-shot eyes but sought
To keep his fellows from their sleep;
All shouted till their anger grew
And they were whirling in a heap.
They mauled and bit the whole night through;
They mauled and bit till the day shone;
They mauled and bit through all that day
And till another night had gone,
Or if they made a moment's stay
They sat upon their heels to rail,,
And when old Guaire came and stood
Before the three to end this tale,
They were commingling lice and blood
"Time's up,' he cried, and all the three
With blood-shot eyes upon him stared.
"Time's up,' he eried, and all the three
Fell down upon the dust and snored.
`Maybe I shall be lucky yet,
Now they are silent,' said the crane.
`Though to my feathers in the wet
I've stood as I were made of stone
And seen the rubbish run about,
It's certain there are trout somewhere
And maybe I shall take a trout
but I do not seem to care.'
- or not…
Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 – weird and almost wonderful but very shocking and not for the faint of heart!)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 6 (you'll hide the scissors… from any women in your life)
Style 8 (supremely stylish horror, a thinking person’s Hostel?)
Babes 6 (Gainsborough is the same age as my wife – but not as hot!)
Comedy 6 (you might laugh but you’ll doubt your sanity soon after)
Horror 9 (deeply unpleasant things await)
Spiritual Enlightenment -9 (like a vacuum for the soul)