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