Saturday, 18 June 2011


When Lars Von Trier debut Antichrist in Cannes back in 2009, the audience were shocked by its openly brutal and graphic sexual contents. An opportunity to watch it arrived few weeks ago. Starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourgh, Antichrist is beautiful to look at, yet its content and subject matter are really disturbing. On the surface, the story deals with an unnamed couple whose only child died upon falling down from an open window. The woman spirals into deep depression and emotional anguish. She also tries to replace these griefs with sex. It didn't work, so the man decides to help his wife to confront her fears and grief, first through psychotherapy at home and when that's not working, subsequently try exposure therapy at a creepy, lone cabin amongst the woods known as Eden. The man chooses the place as he learnt that she somehow fears that place. And oh, by the way, throughout all this, the man seems to be really emotionally rooted and calm despite the tragic death of his child. The movie then gets more and more creepy with build up of sinister tones and images, such as the deer with a dead fawn half dangling out and later a fox which is in the midst of self dis-em bowling itself uttering "chaos reigns!". Oh man. The surrounding woods are really creepy, steep with foreboding sense of death and decay. Foggy with expose tangling roots, blood sucking bugs, muddy and hailstones pelting down the rusty zinc roofing with a sense of doom and gloom. No boy scouts happy camping in the wood scenario here for sure. Anyway the man later discovers a notebook written by his wife from her earlier stay at the cabin when she was doing a thesis on gynocide. It is hinted at that she could have reached a conclusion with her studies that nature is in essence, evil and men, its enemy (this part sparks the accusation that this film is misogynistic to its core). And the arrogant man is not welcome here, and must be brought down. After all wasn't Eve the one whom led Adam astrayed in the Garden of Eden and subsequent banishment for both of them? The book also contains witch craft imageries and the gradual deterioration in her hand writing hinted at the downward spiral of her mental health (or finally embracing the result of her research?). The man also found photos of the woman and her late son at the cabin which hinted a sinister planning on her part by subtly multilate her son's (mis-matched shoes) feet. Flashback also reveals that she was looking at the son when he fell. The film then gets into the gory mode, as she eventually gets all mental and inflicts the most painful form of torture on her husband (and self multilation upon herself) when he confronts her about the book and their late son's condition that's ever captured in nicely, shot cinematography (as opposed to those run of the mill torture porn movies ala Hostel etc.) in a horror movie. The director seems to want to tell the audience that indeed the woman in the movie (or controversially representing all women in general. Ouch.) is at its core, diabolical. Or insane. Whatever. In the end, the man prevailed despite all the life sapping torturing the woman made him gone through (the wife just suddenly gave up - don't understand why), eventually managed to strangle her and subsequently burnt her body on a funeral pyre. Then, while hobbling his way out of the woods, creepy images of thousands of women with blurred faces are seen walking towards the man. So what is the movie trying to say? All at once - masculinity vs feminism, nature vs man, nature represented as embodiment of chaos. And of course, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorn.

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