• Antichrist is the first leg of Lars von Trier’s The Depression trilogy which would later include Melancholia (2011) and Nymphomaniac (2013).
  • The film is broken up into four chapters- “Grief”, “Pain”, “Despair” and “The Three Beggars”. It also includes a prologue and an epilogue. The chapter markers (and von Trier always uses chapters to break up his work) display artwork from Per Kirkeby. Kirkeby often collaborates on von Trier’s films. Most famously, he did the art for the chapter titles in 1996’s Breaking the Waves as well.

Per Kirkeby’s titles- an important part of Antichrist

  • The prologue is horrifying- but it is captured in some of the most beautiful black and white photography imaginable. The images are as crisp as Cuaron’s Roma as music from Handel accompanies the slow-motion photography. There are figurines of pain, grief, and despair as snow falls on the window.

the film’s unforgettable prologue

horror and beauty

  • Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play “He” and “She” (as von Trier is trying to tell the anti-creation story—very allegorical). Dafoe’s character is a therapist- “Ok, can you give me some of examples of this?”- He speaks is aggravating platitudes as Gainsbourg’s character goes through her stages of grief. This is von Trier riffing a little on Scenes from a Marriage—and these are a brave pair of performances (by two actors very comfortable putting themselves out there and taking risks with auteurs).

The main narrative is intercut with shots of a forest setting (her mental state) which ultimately blend together.

immaculate cinematic paintings- akin to the awe-inspiring opening of Melancholia

  • At the 29-minute mark a slow motion shot of “Eden”- there is a cabin in the woods and Gainsbourg’s character is talking to Dafoe’s character about her dreams. These are some immaculate cinematic paintings- akin to the awe-inspiring opening of Melancholia. The two characters are taking this Stalker-like metaphysical journey (and in the end credits von Trier would dedicate the film to Tarkovsky).
  • At the 50-minute mark the dense forest long shot dissolves and blends into the back of Gainsbourg’s hair.
  • The mise-en-scene also has a dedication to a color design: a teal shirt, a teal toilet (the one she smashes her head into), and grays—lots and lots of grays throughout.

yet another artistic coup for von Trier- easily his best work since 2000’s Dancer in the Dark

Antichrist lays the groundwork for 2011’s Melancholia

  • The film absolutely works as a domestic drama as well. It is sharply written—and von Trier infuses the grating noise of the acorns raining on the roof of the cabin in the woods to aggravate and increase the intensity (like the fireworks in the Alfred Molina scene in Boogie Nights).
  • In chapter three, Despair, there is a scene straight out of The Shining as Dafoe’s character discovers her diary and see she has succumbed to evil or madness.
  • Much of the film looks like the darkly lit “winter” section prologue in Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019).

The composition of naked bodies intertwined with the roots of the trees – very avant-garde- sublime- is at the 70-minute mark.

  • The film is violent, controversial
  • The film’s epilogue goes back to the black and white photography and Handel’s aria.
  • Highly Recommend / Must See border- perhaps even leaning to Must See with more time to process