Reflections: Antichrist by Lars von Trier

Antichrist (Image source: IMDB)
Antichrist. The name suggested it was probably based on religion, but posters didn't. The characters played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg don't have any names. It starts with both of them making love in a shower and then moving onto their bed. And while they are at it, their young son gets out of his cradle with a stuffed teddy in his hands and climbs up the window using a stool and dies after falling onto the road. And this becomes the theme of the movie.

The wife is never able to get past it and the husband, himself a therapist, tries to help her move on with life. But she returns to her sadness and suffering time and again. The husband then decides to take his wife's case differently. He asks her what are the things she fears the most and she says woods are her biggest fear. So they head to a forest to relieve her of this fear by facing the fear. But once in the woods in their cabin there (where she had been earlier with Nic, her baby, to finish her thesis on misogynist Christian beliefs and practices), things begin to change. She thinks her husband isn't really affected by their son's death. Sex is used as a tool by them often but not out of love but only because it distracts her from her agony. Her behavior becomes weirder with time - she starts hitting her husband and attacking him; she wants him to hit her during sex; she thinks he is going to leave her; and eventually smashes his balls with a wooden block and relieves him with her hand and he ejaculates blood. She then cuts a hole through his left leg and bolts a grindstone to it so that he cannot go away from her.

But he somehow drags himself to quite some distance but is ultimately caught by her. She brings him out of his hiding hole but then suddenly realizes the wrong she has done and helps him out and takes him back to their cabin. She cryptically tells him that when the 'three beggars' come someone must die - the 'three beggars' represented by a deer, a fox and a crow. As fate would have it, he somehow frees himself from the stone and strangulates her to death. He leaves the cabin and as he is feeding on wild berries, hundreds of women (dressed so as to signify women of earlier centuries who were killed because of Christian practices) running uphill towards him.

The film was dedicated to Andrei Tarkovsky. If you are turned off by violence, blood, aggressive sexual acts then you must totally avoid this one. Lot of scenes are abruptly cut. They don't segue and the smooth transitioning is missing. The central theme is of guilt that takes over the wife for not doing anything to protect their baby while indulging in sexual pleasures. She even cuts her own clitoris off using a pair of scissors after a flashback in which she actually sees her baby falling off the window while having sex (but this most probably is what she is imagining, not the reality). The film could have been shot and edited in a much better way. Overall, it is nice on the novelty of the concept but lacking in execution. Charlotte has done more than justice to the role and performed beautifully as a grieving mother and seductively as a psychotic violence-loving wife.


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