Antichrist

( 24 )

Overview

This enormously controversial psychodrama-cum-horror film from Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier charts the degeneration of a marriage into apocalyptic violence, chaos, and insanity following an unthinkable domestic tragedy. The film opens with a prologue. While they make love in their apartment on a snowy winter afternoon, a husband and wife known only as "He" and "She" Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg fail to keep an eye on their young toddler. In a horrific turn of events, the child wanders over to an...
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Overview

This enormously controversial psychodrama-cum-horror film from Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier charts the degeneration of a marriage into apocalyptic violence, chaos, and insanity following an unthinkable domestic tragedy. The film opens with a prologue. While they make love in their apartment on a snowy winter afternoon, a husband and wife known only as "He" and "She" Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg fail to keep an eye on their young toddler. In a horrific turn of events, the child wanders over to an open window, entranced by the snow cascading down, and falls two stories to his death. Von Trier then divides the remainder of the film into four chapters, beginning with "Grief." In that segment, the woman finishes a month's hospitalization, and accuses her husband of apathy over the child's death, but proceeds to take responsibility for it herself; he calmly and rationally guides her through this process. In the second segment, "Pain," she confesses to him that she's most terrified of their property in the forest, because she spent time with her son there over the preceding summer; as a form of therapy, he takes her to that locale on a wilderness retreat. She appears to grow more calm and rational over their first days in that milieu. Yet the recovery, it seems, was only illusory, and the subsequent two chapters, "Despair Gynocide" and "The Three Beggars," depict the woman's shocking and abrupt regression into unbridled insanity, culminating with grotesque sexual violence against herself, gruesome acts of destruction against her husband, and an apocalyptic climax.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Courting controversy has always been the de facto artistic goal of writer-director Lars von Trier. With Antichrist, he pursues that goal even more single-mindedly than ever before. The hubbub surrounding Antichrist appeared in forms both internal and external to the actual film; internal, because it contains some of the most graphic sexual violence ever to hit mainstream cinema, and external, because von Trier proclaimed himself the greatest director in the world while doing publicity interviews. The former transgression might logically nullify the latter assertion, but Antichrist is, in fact, quite beautiful, in its way. Anthony Dod Mantle's camerawork is gorgeous, entrancing us through dreamy slow motion, watery palettes of color, and unconventional framing, all of it augmented by the haunting sound design. Furthermore, von Trier's examination of the paralysis of grief is as thought-provoking as it is, in most respects, earnest. The million-dollar question, then: Did he really have to show such brutality in order to get his point across? And if so, what was his point, exactly? The act in question -- or multiple acts, depending on your personal tolerance level -- begs us to consider whether von Trier actually hates women, a theory that has always seemed credible, given the punishments endured by the female characters in his previous films. But his biggest problem is not the imagery itself. You can justify almost anything if you can demonstrate its narrative purpose, or if the outcome of events flows logically from what came before. That's not the case here. Grieving may turn Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg -- who give bold, unflinching performances -- into deteriorated husks, but von Trier needed to consider whether A plus B equaled C, if he really wanted to sidestep accusations of misogyny. Then again, being who he is, such accusations probably only fueled the director's sense of rebellious iconoclasm.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/9/2010
  • UPC: 715515063517
  • Original Release: 2009
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Presentation: Special Edition / Wide Screen
  • Sound: DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:48:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 208

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Willem Dafoe He
Charlotte Gainsbourg She
Technical Credits
Lars von Trier Director, Screenwriter
Kristian Eidnes Andersen Sound/Sound Designer
Madeleine Ekman Co-producer
Frauke Firl Costumes/Costume Designer
Meta Louise Foldager Producer
Peter Garde Executive Producer
Peter Aalbæk Jensen Executive Producer
Anders Thomas Jensen Screenwriter
Lars Jönsson Co-producer
Karl Juliusson Production Designer
Anthony Dod Mantle Cinematographer
Andrea Occhipinti Co-producer
Ole Ostergaard Co-producer
Tim Pannen Art Director
Anders Refn Editor
Malgorzata Szumowska Co-producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(2)

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