63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a challenge
If it hadn't been for the vociferous praise from a friend, wild horses couldn't have dragged me to watch Lars Von Trier's latest controversy. Not only did it seem to be thoroughly unpleasant but having recently been joined by our second son the timing couldn't have been any worse for a film which follows the tortured path of a couple grieving after the death of their...
Published on 11 Mar 2010 by William Rycroft
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Memorable but for the wrong reasons
Watched this film without having heard of it and with no preconceptions. The film is crafted with huge care, attention and thought. Highly detailed and visually impressive.
That said the story seemed to get lost in the process of delivering the visual product and consequently left little impression on me other than some particularly graphic and nasty...
Published on 7 Sep 2010 by Movieman
Most Helpful First | Newest First
63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a challenge,
This review is from: Antichrist [DVD] (DVD)If it hadn't been for the vociferous praise from a friend, wild horses couldn't have dragged me to watch Lars Von Trier's latest controversy. Not only did it seem to be thoroughly unpleasant but having recently been joined by our second son the timing couldn't have been any worse for a film which follows the tortured path of a couple grieving after the death of their toddler. It doesn't matter who you are though, or what your familial setup might be, Antichrist is always going to be an uncomfortable and uncompromising watch. Deeply troubling, controversial in the truest sense of the word and as admirable as it is repulsive, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel but after a week or two I am at least ready to get something out there.
It is an uncompromising start, Von Trier seems keen to set out his stall early. The first few minutes of the film, shot in beautiful slow motion black-and-white, show Willem Defoe as 'He' and Charlotte Gainsbourg as 'She' making love, including a close-up shot of a thrusting, erect penis so that you can accuse him of pornography and the simultaneous, slow, almost balletic sequence events that leads to the couple's son falling from their apartment window onto the snowy street below. We are then into Grief, the name of this first section, which has hospitalised and medicated her and left him, who is a therapist, with the cold detachment of a professional, searching for the best way to help her through her grief. At first we feel huge sympathy for Gainsbourg, crippled by her grief, lashing out for some kind of purchase on her emotions, whilst at the same time being repelled by Defoe's clinical and arrogant treatment of his partner. You sense that there can only be danger once the barrier between lover and therapist has been broken down and this feeling only intensifies when the couple leave the oppression of their apartment for the rural retreat they call Eden.
After Grief come sections entitled Pain (Chaos Reigns) and Despair (Gynocide) where rural retreat becomes a place of frightening isolation, Eden becomes Hell, and the couple embark on a course of tortured treatment, recrimination and confrontation. Von Trier's landscape is dark hued and frightening, populated by totemic animals like a doe with a stillborn fawn hanging behind it, and a rank fox which even speaks to Him ("Chaos reigns!") a horrible visual representation of Her assertion that Nature is Satan's Church. The increasingly nightmarish feel to the film continues as the violence escalates and all is enhanced by Anthony Dod Mantle's amazing cinematography; Eden is fecund and rotting, a harsh light cuts through the night and the black and white sections are deep and textured.
The torturous violence meted out wouldn't look out of place in the rash of horror flicks from the Saw stable but it isn't that or the explicit sex that worry me. It is of course the sexual politics and the inevitable accusations of misogyny. I've already mentioned our differing sympathies for He and She and these shift through the film with Von Trier providing revelations that alter our perception particularly of her. She had been working on a thesis of historical violence against women (Gynocide) but her endeavour stalled in the face of her unacceptable conclusion. Human nature is evil and therefore women are evil, a conclusion dangerously close to 'she asked for it' and one rejected emphatically by He. But those revelations about her would seem to support her thesis and the last of these is such a paradigm shift that it risks alienating part of the audience entirely. This is what I'm still struggling with. Von Trier can't really be suggesting that women are evil, their sexual desires perverse and murderous, and their relationship to their offspring ambivalently abusive; so what is he trying to say exactly? The final scene in which a crowd of faceless women surge over the hill on which He now stands alone, baffled, is perhaps an indicator of Von Trier's own bafflement and certainly a neat symbol of mine. What I can say for sure is that the film is a work of art rather than pornography of sex or violence. It is uncomfortable and difficult, challenging and unique. There is no right time to watch it but it would be a mistake to dismiss it out of hand.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Frolicks For All!,
This review is from: Antichrist [DVD] (DVD)Despite all the hype and press coverage, I always like to go into a film with my eyes wide open. I felt this film would be a perfect date movie, so I took my 'date' Helga to it when it opened.
Lars Von Tree has a reputation for being a controversial director. He is up there with Spielberg and Woody Allen as one of the most controversial film-makers of our generation. Interestingly, this film was originally slated for Spielberg to direct, but went to Lars in a last minute bidding war.
The plot is staple and homely, a couple set off to a forest retreat to rekindle their relationship and discover the meaning of true love. I cannot remember both of the actor's names, I think it's Gerard Depardieu and Julie Christie. They have a wonderful chemistry. Their onscreen chemistry reminded me of my own parents.
Many people have slammed the violence in this film, but I found it most enjoyable. I even suggested to Helga that we re-enacted some key scenes from the film to spice up our relationship.
The soundtrack by Miley Cyrus is ill-placed but if you can distance yourself from this, the visuals are quite rewarding. I particularly liked the sequence where Depardieu galavants through the forest in his underpants, on all fours pretending to be a deer.
The title of the film remains misleading, there are no relgious undertones here. This is a straight up romantic comedy with small bursts of mild peril. I would say it's like Sleepless In Seattle meeting The Evil Dead. I enjoyed the movie so much, I went straight back into the theatre afterwards to see it again. Helga did not join me though and has not returned any of my calls since.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not depressing - it's ABOUT depression,
There's little doubt that this film has divided the opinions of one and all. Some expect horror - well, it's not. Some may be curious as to its alleged 'porn' status, when it has none at all. Yet others pan it as art, albeit obsure and psychotic, for art's sake. It's not. At its heart lie the agonies of its creator in real life, past if not present, for above all this is an intimate analysis of one couple's descent into psychological breakdown, caused by the tragic death of their son.
In this film, it is the mother of the child who takes it upon herself to assume most of the guilt, and her partner - a therapist by profession anyway - gives her therapeutic support and guidance. (The director has been accused of touching upon misogynistic taboos in this regard, with his suggestion that women are evil and men are not) But her breakdown deepens and becomes physically as well as mentally destructive, and the portrayal of this is one of the film's strengths. That it should descend into such horrific images of agonising pain and mutilation is the debatable point - personally I think more could have been left to the viewer's imagination, and there should have been less in the way of sickeningly horrible (as opposed to horrific) imagery. This was the one disappointing element for me, and although I don't doubt that such acts of violence are authentic and possibly based on real events, there was no need to make those images quite so brutally in-your-face in impact; a little subtlety would have been my preference. That's because to an extent it will be these images that people will remember the film for, and some of the very intelligent examinations of depression, panic attacks and nervous breakdowns are almost glossed over as a result. For me, it's the script that works best, its worth paying careful attention to, and while its entertainment fare must admittedly be called into question, it is nevertheless poignant, moving and convincing.
This is not a horror film. I suppose it's a psychological drama but with some shocks for shock's sake, rather than art for art's sake. I'm guessing that this was something of a personal mission for the director, who if he had stayed truer to the core values would have lost a lot of money for its producers; as a result it has been 'shocked up' and given a snazzy but meaningless title so as to attract attention, more viewers, more money. That's understandable I admit - no-one wants to lose money making a film. For the viewer, if he/she can acknowledge that some of the visuals in this film are probably over-done so as to generate controversy, there is actually much to take from the film's more basic message of emotional breakdown. Much the same could be said of the symbolic imagery, which seemed to me to be, at times anyway, created only for artistic effect rather than add any meaningful worth to the story.
The circumstances surrounding the little boy's death are similar to a real and well-publicised incident that took place in New York in 1991, a tragedy that troubled me at the time and has saddened me ever since. For this reason I was particularly interested to see how the parents of the boy in this film came to terms with their grief, and it has to be said that the portayal is credible, disturbing and lays long in the memory.
I watched this in Blu-Ray and I would suggest that anyone with the choice makes the same as I did. In particular the opening scene, or prologue, which is shot in black and white, is superb from a technical perspective. The sound quality throughout is particularly impressive too, with countless sounds of the forest and the outside world coming over in detail and with a great sense of three-dimensional depth of field. What did disappoint me however was the absence of any sub-titles in English (only Danish and Italian), because although I am not hearing-impaired I often use subtitles to make sure I get every word. Set-up options are limited, with only an English audio soundtrack together with a rerun of the film with commentary by the director. On the 'Bonus' menu there are various explanations as to how the film was made, ironically some of which are in Danish with English subtitles!
A good film, then, for those with the capacity, objectivity and perhaps patience to appreciate it - but I accept that this will include far from everybody.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eerie, spooky psychological horror that slaps you round the face.,
The film is sexually explicit, gruesome, chilling, spooky and in several places had all of us who were watching going, "Oh my God!", "What the ffffff....!" or just plain hiding behind our pillows.
It'is brilliantly paced and makes good use of sound and film techniques to build an eerie atmosphere, and the main setting only ads to this feeling too, as the bulk of 'the horror' takes place at a log cabin in the woods.
There are some truly twisted ideas in this film which will make your jaw drop and your tummy turn, but this only ads to the films affect.
I found the story to be riveting. The acting solid. The horror palpable. And I thought that, for once, this was a horror that really did leave me with a chill.
The Blu Rayicture quality is excellent and there are a good deal of extras ont he disc too, which talk about the animals and animal trainers, the look and design of the film, the research that went into it, the techniques used and all manner of other things. There are cast a director interviews and, even though this film will create mixed options amongst it's viewers, all will agree they didn't scrimp on the bonus material.
For me, Anti Christ was a brave film that slapped me around the face and demanded my attention. Once the ride was over I was
Eft feeling like I'd been sucker punched by Satan himself.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature is Satan's Church,
This review is from: Antichrist [DVD] (DVD)I guess this product doesn't really need another Review - there are plenty here already - but I "loved" this film so much I just had to say what I feel and think about it.
It should disturb people - I presume it is meant to. But only in the sense that it is crying out to people's denial of our terrible human condition here; the Evilness of planet earth. So much that is generally hidden or denied or labelled pathological, but which is actually normal. And of course to say such things is to immediately invite people's wrath, even if it is the Truth.
For me there is only one error in the movie - and that is the equation of nature with women only; and somehow men representing the mind/intellect/rationality. Because, in Truth, of course, man and the mind are as much a product of nature as everything else on the planet. There is the battle to try and rationalise an emotional event - and the portrayal of the fact that that is just not possible. Nor can it be. And ultimately the body and emotions win, as Dafoe himself finds out.
There is nothing shocking about any of the sexual scenes; nor has it got anything to do with mental illness. Nor is it a horror movie, though it is of course horrific in certain scenes. People who want to take those lines are, again, missing the more distressing point that pain, grief, sorrow, anger and "madness" are major parts of our life as humans on this planet.
The primal scream is actually shown visually, as is the cruelty of nature. The images of the half-born, dead baby deer still trapped in its mother's body for example; the almost-dead bird eaten up by other creatures and so on. This is an exploration of von Trier's idea that "nature is satan's church". And although I wouldn't use the word "satan", I can see what he is driving at and wholly agree.
At least he has dared to look at many issues and aspects of our lives straight in the eye - in a world which prefers to pretend they don't exist.
I totally recommend.
41 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be taken lightly,
Do not watch this film if you're looking for a classic Horror movie, nor would i recommend watching this film if you 'wanna watch sum sick stuff legally'. Art-house? I think not. Pretentious? Hardly. Disturbing, uncomfortable, offensive and damn sure hard to watch? Yes.
Anyone who has suffered from a panic attack, spate of paranoia or depression will probably (as did I) find this film compelling on many levels. It's quite horrific in some parts as it cuts so close to the bone that you can't help but stare and become drawn in. The trouble with Antichrist is that it falls into no specific genre and therefore upsets the general public as they don't know how to approach it. The 'tutters' (you know the type, the folk who turn their noses up at Roy Chubby Brown jokes) are, of course, having a field day with this movie because they're undoubtedly unable to sit and view this movie, take in all the horrific images and hard to deal with subjects then consciously and unaffectedly ask the question 'why?'. They find it far easier to slag the film off and pick everything they don't understand. And that, remarkably (in my opinion of course!) is the reason why this film is so good.
If you can sit through this film and ask questions of it and you know of the director/writers' background of mental health issues (or have in fact been in a similar mental position yourself) then this movie can be like bathing in your own blood, you know its wrong but somehow your surrounded by a warm yet disturbing part of yourself. One of which you cannot rid yourself of, really wish it wasn't there and yet feel strangely attached to it!
Watch this film, but be prepared to be shocked. Don't watch it if you don't want to see penetration, blood and violence. If you've suffered from mental health issues in the past then just take an extra bit of care as you may find yourself sat in front of a mirror....
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Memorable but for the wrong reasons,
This review is from: Antichrist [DVD] (DVD)Watched this film without having heard of it and with no preconceptions. The film is crafted with huge care, attention and thought. Highly detailed and visually impressive.
That said the story seemed to get lost in the process of delivering the visual product and consequently left little impression on me other than some particularly graphic and nasty scenes.
Beautifully crafted but simply nasty. Couldn't recommend.
1.0 out of 5 stars i hate it. so boring its brilliant like it says on dvd cover. brilliant. they would say that just to get rid of it.,
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea,
This review is from: Antichrist [DVD] (DVD)I bought this film as i respect willem Dafoe as an actor but found that this film was not for me. The performances are great though.
3.0 out of 5 stars dark, darker, darkest,
This review is from: Antichrist [DVD] (DVD)This is quite an outstanding film because of the excellent acting, unusual and innovative cinematography and for its bravery in grappling with deep philosophical issues which are bound to overwhelm us all in the end.
It's difficult to use words such as 'like' or 'enjoy' when describing this movie but I would recommend it to anyone who hates Hollywood and all that it represents.
I found some of the gory scenes, espcially those between the two characters very funny and I don't know if this was intentional. But for horror fans then I am sure it'll be worth giving this one a whirl.
It does have long sequences when nothing seems to happen and spookily its almost like time itself has stopped - so make sure you don't nod off and miss the action later.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Antichrist [DVD] by Lars Von Trier (DVD - 2010)