My thoughts on “Melancholia”

I recently spent a few weeks up in New England where I spent my time writing and catching up on films. The atmosphere almost called for it; a snowy landscape with freezing temperatures, a large house all to myself during the day. I became a pajama clad woman curled up in a large leather chair next to a fireplace. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. It was that or worry needlessly about things I did not have any control over. I chose to spend my time creatively.

I decided to write..and watch films. As I culled through dozens of movies available on Netlfix and On Demand, I thought back on the string of disappointing films that I had seen over the summer. “The Tree of Life”(which was almost a perfect film except for the last twenty minutes or so) ,”Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” & “The Gaurd.” With the exception of Woody Allen’s magnificent “Midnight in Paris,” almost every single film I have seen in the past year has been dull and uninspiring. I may come off sounding like a cynical film critic here but I am truly just bummed out by the lack of good films out there right now.Perhaps I hope that the films I pay to see are not going to be lazy or bogged down with cliché after cliché. I believe there are so many interesting stories to tell, yet filmmakers get caught up in nonsensical plot lines and old ideas. I do look forward to seeing “The Artist” and “Take Shelter.” I have heard nothing but positive things about these two films.

Just when I was feeling like it had been ages since I had seen a truly intriguing  film, I discovered Lars von Trier’s beautiful “Melancholia.” I had seen the trailer back in September and became instantly intrigued by it. The film has an archaic, dreamy quality to it that is extremely rare. The director was heavenly influenced by early German filmmakers and his appreciation for those films is evident. “Melancholia” shines in its morose slowness. It has an elegance to it that can only be attributed to the fact that Lars von Trier is a talented and unique filmmaker. It is both lovely and haunting. A  film that offers a different kind of philosophy than ” The Tree of Life.”

* I have since changed my mind in regards to “The Tree of Life.” I watched it a second time in film class and discovered philosophical themes in the film that I had previously missed. I have now seen the film four times, and enjoy it more than I did the first time I watched it. It is quite a remarkable piece of work.

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12 thoughts on “My thoughts on “Melancholia”

  1. Just put Melancholia on my netflix. I felt similar about “The Tree of Life”, I loved moments of it and loved some of the themes and imagery, but it ultimately fell very flat which was very disappointing for a film that felt like it had so much potential.

    • Please let me know what you think of it! It is certainly not for everyone. There is not a lot of dialogue and it moves very slow…but it is beautiful and there is no other film quite like it.I agree with you in regards to “The Tree of Life.” I thought it was shot beautifully and the acting was fantastic but it should have ended at the scene where the praying starts…which led to scores of people wandering aimlessly on a beach which I suppose was heaven? At first I thought it was more of an existential film but I figured out in the end that it had more to do with Terrance Mallick’s faith than anything else. I am a huge fan of Mallick and his work. I think “Badlands” is one of his best films. I will most likely see the two films he is working on for 2013, but I will not believe any hype.

  2. Just watched Tree of Life the other day, but I haven’t quite decided what I thought of it. That opinion might take me a while to form, and may take another viewing.
    Take Shelter is one of my favourite movies I have seen in a long time. The story was incredible, something that I wish I had wrote.
    Planning to watch Melancholia very soon also.

    • Nic,

      I watched “Tree of Life” once again in film class and decided that all in all it is a very lovely film. I was bothered that it went from being an aesthetically perfect film to dwindling out towards the end. The last twenty minutes or so were not necessary. The film went from being this mesmerizing cinematic masterpiece that unfolded before my eyes, to a film about faith. I respect Mr. Malick and enjoy some of his older films such as “Badlands” and “A Thin Red Line.” I just wish he could have left the end scenes on the beach to the cutting room floor.He is a talented directed who creates film like no other. Perhaps next he will leave more to the imagination.

      In regards to “Take Shelter,” I thought it was fantastic. The acting and the writing superb. I am very fond of Michael Shannon. He is a brilliant actor. The director, Jeff Nichols has proven to be on hell of a filmmaker. He is a pretty young guy who is cranking out excellent films. I recommend checking out the musical talents of his brother, Ben Nichols. He is one of my favorite musicians. Oh, and please let me know what you think of “Melancholia.”

      • Just watched Melancholia the other day, actually. Really enjoyed it. I am definitely interested in independent films, however I can’t say I know much about filmmaking, or the process that goes into making a film, which is partly why I am a sucker for good story with good dialogue. Doesn’t have to be extremely exciting, nor does it have to have lots of hooks and twists, as long as the dialogue, the story and the acting seems real with real emotions, then I’m hooked. For this reason I may have liked the end of ‘Tree of Life’ more than the beginning. The beginning was wonderful to watch and smart, but it wasn’t until the end that a story unfolded, which, as a writer, I really rely on. This would be why I loved ‘Take Shelter’; really smart, amazing storyline with great acting. ‘Melancholia’ although a bit more obscure, was great because of a great, somewhat mysterious story. I attribute my fondness for these movies to my fondness for a good book or short story I guess.

      • I concur, sir! The film is beautiful and haunting. What did you think of the scenes with the scientist and his wife? My feelings are that he believed his family was in danger, but thought that the planet would miss them. It was a bummer that he totally did himself in, and ended up in a hay bin.I am glad you enjoyed the film. How about that planet? Amazing stuff.I agree with everything you said with regards to “Take Shelter.” I thought it is a lovely, weird film. I also do not mind films with little dialogue. One that I watched recently with almost no dialogue is called “Meek’s Cutoff.” It is a beautiful film in a barren, stripped down way.Michelle Williams is in the film. If you have time in the near future, I recommend checking it out.

  3. ‘Melacholia’ had a great premise–apocalyptic stories always grab my attention. The planet was presented in a great way, visually and story-wise. As for the scientist and his wife, it is too bad that he was a coward and had to kill himself when he figured out of his impending doom, and that the insane Justine was the one to comfort the family through the event. The insane are always the best ones.
    I’ve heard of ‘Meek’s Cutoff’ have been meaning to check it out. I’ll let you know what I think!

    • Indeed. The insane are the always the people who see things that other people do not see. I had a lot of empathy for Justine. She may have evoked a sense of doom for many people, but I found her to be very intriguing.

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