JUSTINE ISN’T JUST LONGING. SHE IS LONGING FOR PATHOS AND DRAMA. SHE’S NOT SERIOUS ABOUT HER OWN WEDDING. IN THE START SHE IS TOYING WITH IT ALL IN AN OFF-HAND MANNER, BECAUSE SHE FEELS SO ON TOP OF THINGS THAT SHE CAN POKE FUN AT IT. BUT SLOWLY, MELANCHOLIA DESCENDS LIKE A CURTAIN BETWEEN HER AND ALL THE THINGS SHE HAS SET IN MOTION. AND WHEN SHE GETS TO THE WEDDING NIGHT, SHE SIMPLY CAN’T COPE. AND ALL THE WHILE, MELANCHOLIA KEEPS DESCENDING. LITERALLY.
All though we are not in favor of spoiling a plot, in this particular case let’s just jump to the end. Because that is what it is. The End. Inevitable. Complete. Absolute. But that is not how it begins. Melancholia opens on a sunny Spring afternoon outside a castle. We find ourselves at the wedding party for Justine and Michael. Beautiful and perfect as it all seems, the party is far from successful. Justine’s divorced parents are openly fighting over dinner. Justine herself, suffering from depressions, is both alienated from her sister, her new husband, her boss and her parents. Drifting away from her own party, she grows more and more desperate and eventually Michael leaves, calling the marriage off. But what is going on in the night skies. What is that specific star, Antares, that shines brighter than all the others? And why did it all of a sudden disappear?
Justine’s sister Clair lives with her husband John and their son Leo in that same castle. When Justine goes to visit she has become so depressed that everyday life seems an impossible task fro her. But for some reason, staying with her sister’s family, brings more confidence and she grows stronger. Claire however starts to loose herself in fear for her family and the planet when it becomes known that the star Antares was destroyed by a telluric free-floating planet, 10 times the size of Earth. When this blue planet, Melancholia, becomes more and more visible in the sky, scientist are able to calculate its traject and predict a fly-by of astronomic proportion. Everything goes as predicted and melancholia passes Earth in a near-miss. But what no one could have foreseen, is that once passed, Melancholia is coming back around, following a path of collision.
Spoiling the plot is what filmmaker Lars von Trier had planned all along. In fact, he finds it crucial that the audience knows exactly what will happen at the end from the first images of the film. “It is the same thing as with Titanic,” the famous Danish director states. “When they board the ship you just know. Something with an iceberg will probably turn up. It is my thesis that most films are like that, really.” About Melancholia Lars says: “Justine is very much like me. She is based a lot on my person and y experiences with doomsday prophecies and depression. Whereas Claire is meant to be a …normal person.” In many aspects Melancholia is a very autobiographic project for Lars vonTrier, who grew up thinking World War III was breaking out every time a plane flew over. “My analyst told me that melancholiacs will susually be more level-headed than ordinary people in a disastrous situation, partly because they can say: ‘What did I tell you?’ But also because they have nothing to lose. And that was the germ of Melancholia.”
Melancholia, is simply a beautiful movie about the end of the world. Without an unexpected happy ending. The film, directed by Lars von Trier and starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland premiered in May 2011 during the Cannes Film festival and runs in theaters all over the world. –BM-
MELANCHOLIA | BEAUTIFULMAG