MELANCHOLIA (2011) – A Hymn to Depression

melancholia.jpegWe are all going to die soon. So throw away your dumb rituals, your make-beliefs, your unfulfilling career race, your pretenses of aesthetic refinement and classiness. Embrace the despondent wait. Be like Justine. Lose control of your life. So that when the time comes you won’t be caught unawares. You will have known it was going to happen anyway. You can say then, “Because I know things. I know what the answer of the lottery is, I know that there is no god out there, I know that humans are all alone on a despicable planet, the only one in the universe that contains life, and that if it is destroyed nobody cares because nobody is there to care or know about it.” It’s like having the upper hand over surprises, like you know your friends are secretly plotting a surprise birthday party, and when they yell surprise, you think “yayyyy, whatever”.

Lars von Trier’s second film in the ‘Depression trilogy’, the others being Antichrist and Nymphomaniac, Melancholia poignantly explores the lethargic, negative, simultaneously all-embracing, dynamism of melancholiness. As an artistic expression of this psychological state, the film is par excellence, with its hyper-slow motion effects, dreamy and absurd turn of events, juxtaposition of the universe (or earth and outer space, at least), nature, and cinematic effects with the mind, and a lot many things that require a second viewing to pinpoint.

The melancholy of human existence is somewhat this: that you are suddenly unable to continue in denial as society encourages you to do, and the stark coldness of empty existence leaves you in a self-destructive lethargy. I am entranced by the premise, the brilliant acting, the flow and ambience of the movie; but the final message that came across was the affirmation of depression as the truth, that non depressed people merely worrying over their everyday anxieties, engaged in chores, duties, hypocritic conversation and polite lies were like sheep, distracted by the really pressing concern — impending death, or more frighteningly, nonexistence.

Well, I found it too simplistic, and narrow a depiction despite the inter-planetary scale of events, because at the root of our rituals, religions, belief in fate, a creator, and daily duties, is the ever present fact, that they try best to conceal, the fact of a gaping abyss. If life takes your mind away from the vacuum within it, well, that’s what it does. Occasional glimpses of the abyss is okay, like when you experience the death of someone close, or when you let yourself be enveloped in an experience that contradicts and endangers everything you had believed in till then.

CLOWNIN’ SCORE: 4/5

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