Lars von Trier is never pleasant but always relevant if not essential.
Penelope Cruz wanted to make a movie with Lars, and she told him that the sisters’ maids who killed their mistress in the play directed by Jean Genet fascinated her. But Lars told Penelope “I don’t do anything that is not born by me”. And this is the context of how the sisters Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) were born in Lars world. Justine was supposed to be played by Penelope but she had to cancel, and Kirsten Dunst was “a pleasant surprise” and “a hell of an actress”, in Lars words. In the plot, a planet that was hidden behind the sun was discovered and it is moving towards to the Earth. Its name is Melancholia.
Like an opera, the movie is played in acts. The act I is Justine, and the act II is Claire. In the first act, Justine is trying to fit in the world and getting married. When the ritual of the celebration starts, she can’t cope no matter how wonderful is the groom (Alexander Skarsgård), and the depression gets her deeply. She tries to get help from the mother (Charlotte Rampling) who gave up the world long time ago and became bitter, and from the father (Jesper Christensen) who is clearly not a responsible father. But Claire, her sister, is there for her, and will always be. In the second act, the wedding is over as well as the marriage that never happened. Justine is in the bottom of her depression, and Claire is being her mother. As the Melancholia planet starts to move closer and they can see it with naked eyes, Justine starts to feel better since she has nothing to lose. But Claire does have lots to lose, and despite her manageable anxious personality, she does fit in the world and she does not want to die. She has a son, and wants him to grow old. Claire tries to believe in her scientist husband (Kiefer Sutherland) who assures her that Melancholia will pass by the Earth and it will be a fantastic spectacle. What she does not know is that he is storing supplies just in case.
In Melancholia, Justine is the character that is self-biographical, and it is probably not a coincidence that he chose the name Melancholia for his movie since in ancient Greek theories of health, there was an association of the state of melancholia with who is capable of greatness, and in other words, from the Aristotelian Problema XXX.1, the melancholic constitution is thought to lead to intellectual outstandingness.
Melancholia, the movie directed by Lars von Trier.