Saturday, December 24, 2011

Melancholia: A rather inappropriate review; Happy Christmas/moon day

[Image taken from here]

Last night, I went to the local movie theater to see Lars von Trier's latest film, Melancholia. Overall, I enjoyed it; although "enjoyed" is probably a rather inappropriate word for such a heavy-going film. The basic premise of the film is that a rogue planet, Melancholia, is fast approaching Earth on a collision course, bringing about the imminent end of all life as we know it.

Given this basic premise, the film is divided into two parts. The first part portrays the wedding party of Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). Justine suffers from depression, and her depression gets worse as the party unfolds, culminating in a series of tragi-comic events that result in the unraveling of the newly-weds' short-lived marriage. The second part of the film portrays events shortly after the wedding. Justine, who has become severely depressed, comes to live with her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) and their young son Leo in their big house (in which, incidentally, the wedding party was held in the first part of the film). As Melancholia approaches Earth on what may or may not be a collision course (I won't spoil the story for you here, although by this point in time, you can probably find lots of spoilers everywhere you look online ;-)), the four of them face this possibly-impending doom in starkly different ways. Claire gets more and more upset as the planet approaches, while Justine becomes less depressed and more calm, even upbeat, in the face of possibly-impending-death. Indeed, this seems to be one of Lars von Trier's main points in the film: That depressed people are often able to remain calm and unruffled in the face of great disaster, because they have been through so many bad things that "[t]hey already know everything is going to hell." (for more details, see this article.) Hmm... is there a yogic lesson here? Something about expectations, maybe? Could depressed people actually be more yogic, in this sense?

Personally, I highly recommend this film, although it is probably not for everybody. It's definitely not the kind of film to see if you are looking for some kind of feel-good movie to get you into a festive holiday mood (to say the least). As a study in emotion (especially those pertaining to depression and alienation) and an examination of human nature under great duress, this film is a superb work.

Oh, and on a somewhat lower-brow level, if you are a guy, you may also be interested in the fact that this is the only film (to my knowledge) in which one gets to see Kirsten Dunst fully naked. I know, I know, this is a rather crass reason to go see a movie, but hey, surely you won't begrudge me a little eye candy in return for all this heavy-going emotional stuff, no?

Miss Dunst in her, uh, full moonlit glory
[Image taken from here]

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In other news: Today is Christmas Eve (like you didn't know that already...). Happy Christmas and Merry New Moon!

[Image taken from here]

I've also been wondering how and whether the folks in Mysore celebrate Christmas, and how they celebrate it there. Quite a number of Ashtangis are down there right now, studying with Sharath. Among them are Kevin, Kino and her husband Tim. It must be pretty interesting to celebrate Christmas (if they do celebrate it) in Mysore, don't you think? Just thinking aloud here. 

6 comments:

  1. I haven't seen the movie yet, but if one is severely depressed, one probably hates all aspects of one's life and welcomes dramatic change, even if the change means the end of the world (one probably sees it as ending one's misery). For non-depressed people, they want a long life and fulfill their dreams - get to the peak of their careers, watch their kids grow up and get married, see their grandchildren grow up, etc. Awaiting for an inevitable end to the planet interferes with this plan and the future of their children (or potential children). This would cause distress of course.

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  2. Hello Yyogini, I think it is true what you say: That non-depressed people tend to get very upset when the world is going to end, because they still have so many goals and dreams they want to fulfill. Interesting. I need to think about this some more.

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  3. I think no mention of Melancholia is complete without discussing the beauty of it. The beaver shot of K Dunst is just one of many many unforgettable images in the movie. Not to mention the hilarious uphill ride in the limousine opening the movie.

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  4. Yes, Roselil, the uphill ride in the limo is hilarious. Although, like everything else in the movie, the humor is tinged with a sense of pensive tension and foreboding. But then again, I suppose this is precisely the effect that Lars von Trier is trying to get across.

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