Lars Von Trier's Apocalyptic vision

I'm a big fan of Lars Von Trier's movies. He's always come across to me as being poetically disturbed, from Breaking The Waves to Dancer In The Dark here's a fearless filmmaker that isn't afraid to push the envelope and make you feel uncomfortable. His latest is no exception, it's called Melancholia and is split into two parts - both completely different in tone and color. It's no surprise too that Von Trier made this film -just like 2009's Antichrist, while going through a sever depression.

The opening credits are stunning, showing a world come to an end via slow motion, painterly photographs and a wagnerian score that continually repeats throughout fractions of the film. These incredible images set the tone for part 2 but let's start with the beginning. The first part is a wedding between two newly weds. In fact it's a train wreck of a wedding. Everything bad that could happen happens. Kirsten Dunst's Justine is the bride and she coincidentally is also going through a severe depression. Why would the groom get married with a severely depressed -and deranged?- woman is beyond me but it's truly interesting and funny how Von Trier mocks his characters, with his audience also knowing that everybody on screen will eventually die.

In a stirringly bizarre scene, Justine leaves her wedding to stare at the stars and there appears glowing shapes of light ala The Tree Of Life on screen. Is it all happening in her head or is Justine seeing things beyond everybody else's comprehension. Later on in the movie she tells her sister "I see things" it's a clue for us to wonder if she actually went through this depression knowing an apocalypse is coming before everyone else did. In the aforementioned credits Justine is seen with lighting bolts eviscerating through her fingers. It's a reminder that what we might perceive as a mentally ill person in the film might not be as ill as we think.

The second part is incredibly hypnotic. The apocalypse is here and yet Justine's sister Christine is told by her oblivious husband -a playful Kiefer Sutherland- that she need not worry, nothing is coming and the mysterious planet Melancholia will just bypass earth. Dunst -knowing death is near- starts coming off her depression and Christine knowing death is near starts going into depression. It's a brilliant switcheroo that proves to us Von Trier has not lost his ability to be a real thinker. He knows how to manipulate then hit his audience hard. His images are memorable and his film a complete work of art.

Melancholia isn't a film for everyone but it is a thinker's movie. Love it or hate it, there is something that is being said here. Von Trier might be a madman but he's not an idiot. He is an auteur first and foremost and attention does need to be paid. In fact this would be a very interesting companion piece to 2011's best movie, Terrence Malick's The Tree Of Life - two totally different works of art but both statements about human nature and creation itself.