WILLIEM DAFOE CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG
For those of you familiar with the work of filmmaker Lars von Trier youunderstand his films are only intended for audiences seeking mental stimulation on the most eccentric level. Dancer in the Dark starring Bjork and Dogville with Nicole Kidman are probably his most well known films, but even those carried a faint pulse with viewers. Antichrist which generates controversy just by its title (which according to Trier was the first element written for the film) is also misrepresented by the title; however critics and those who have seen this film have written all kinds of theories to the title in attempt to make sense of the film and its iconology.
A husband (Dafoe) and wife (Gainsbourg) are making passionate love as their young son gets out of his crib, finds his way to an open window and falls to his death. The first chapter of this story is called Grief, as she tries to cope with the pain of losing a child. Her husband, a therapist takes his wife as his patient in an attempt to get her past depression. In the second chapter, Pain, they return to a cabin in the woods called Eden where she use to work on demonic research involving the evil of women. The final chapter Despair reveals that he hasn't been able to help his wife move past the grief and pain, but has ultimately made it worse, recognized bizarre things that happened while he was away and that neither of them will ever recover.
Trier himself was released from a mental hospital just prior to filming this film. Trier has been widely noted of having a variety of mental, social and temper problems. He is considered by many to be one of the last remaining directors who is completely unaffected by any type of business or high executive decisions regarding the director's artistic vision. Antichrist will mean many things to many different people; no one however can deny the shock value Trier uses in this film. The amount of nudity and the type of nudity displayed here is one thing, the mutilation of sexual organs is quite another and by the end of the film, both male and female viewers will likely be nearly sick to their stomach.
We could talk all day about the symbolism, what it means, what Trier intended it to mean, but as Roger Ebert pointed out, the two actors in the film took this film in their own direction, and even Trier admits he started this project trying to make a horror film, but it didn't end up that way. Antichrist is probably one of the most gruesome and disturbing films on record, however the majority of the film is dialogue and spanning sequences of nature. You have to hand it to both Dafoe and Gainsbourg for being brave enough to take on a role like this that would clearly mess with the mind. I'm not sure anything can be learned, understood or even gained from this film, you watch it, it disturbs you and then it finally ends leaving the viewer with nothing more than their own
opinions on what they saw.
Final Thought – Takes sexual mutilation on film to an entirely new level.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih