"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."
"The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world."
Camus and Chesterton. Two of the many strange bedfellows lounging about in my mind. I've re-read the two fairly often, though not recently. Perhaps it's time. I'd enjoy an Orthodoxy/Absurdity cage match.
I'm impressed by Melancholia even if I was bored by it at times and wished I had been sleeping.
I haven't seen Antichrist, but I know that von Trier has gone to some dark places. I'm not sure that he had anywhere left to go except through death into death or through death into resurrection. I suppose the question still hangs in the air.
Von Trier had to kill the whole world to get beyond himself, to be able to create anything new. Everything had to be shaken down "that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."
I don't think that Melancholia is ultimately defeatist any more than I thought so of Haneke's The Seventh Continent. Melancholia, whatever else it is, is an attack on Modernism. Neither Von Trier nor Haneke offer any way forward, but they clearly show that we can't stay where we're at without courting death.
Von Trier particularly picks on Romanticism, its brooding pagan nostalgia and its restlessly destructive instincts.
It is, of course, interesting how much Von Trier is influenced by the visual arts. Practically every scene references one painting or another, sometimes explicitly, sometimes less so. This is Von Trier paying homage, but he also can't quite help himself from ridiculing his inspirations. There is an abundance of humor in Melancholia. This world that takes itself so seriously is rendered laughable. There is subtle visual humor and there is the really overt comedy of manners that comprises most of the first half of the film.
Since writing the above, I've read Jeff's post. I agree that the shot of Dunst and Melancholia is THE shot of the film. I also interpret it as being an attempt at a joke. Dunst may be the vT figure, but I think that vT is trying to laugh at himself. Melancholia is stupid.
Jeff's Rachel Getting Married comparison made me laugh. I was ready to leave and go home during all of the party crap (as evidenced by my two previous "live" posts). I like it all a lot more thinking back on it than I liked sitting through it.
A couple of Nat Shermans helped pep me up and I cared enough to stick around to the end. I'm glad I did. Melancholia wasn't any worse than Green Lantern and it was definitely better than Rachel Getting Married. It's got more heart than Drive, but less dazzle. It doesn't have half the wisdom of Pooh. Its questioning falls flat before Malick's world altar. Finally, I'd rather watch the world end every night than endure another 5 months under the Midnight reign.
I'm done thinking for a while. I've been writing these scraps throughout the day. Hopefully, some of it hangs together.
I'll meet you all at the 19th hole.