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3.4 out of 5 stars173
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 6 January 2014
Impossible? Well, this is what Lars Von Trier achieves in "Melancholia"; the dogged adherence to social tradition explored by Thomas Vinterberg's drama is successfully blended with Tarkovsky's bleak existential contemplation of annihilation.

The glue that binds is melancholia or loss of purpose. Justine's deteriorating condition is disfunctional only within the regularities of a human sphere. However, as everything is placed under an ever-increasing threat from the approach of a rogue planet, her disconnection from normal social and emotional concerns becomes a strength rather than a weakness and indeed the only rational response to such a disaster. Justine makes one final gesture of reconciliation; she constructs of a "Magic Cave" to reassure her nephew and calm her, by now, hysterical sister. In doing so, she makes up for all the previous pain: when all Earthly life is about to end there is no time left to qualify our relationships.

In her depression, Justine believes the Earth is evil; others would project their fears on to the planet named after the title of the film. In truth, these worlds simply exist, journeying through space until a chance encounter destroys them both ... Von Trier's beautiful film reminds us the event would hold no significance without the value we attach to our relationships, our consciousness of nature in general, and thus to life itself.
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The film is in two parts, the first 'JUSTINE' which tells the tale of 'Justine' (Kirsten Dunst) and 'Michael's' (Alexander Skarsgard)
wedding reception at the home of sister 'Clair' (Charlotte Gainsboroug) and husband John's' (Kiefer Sutherland) home.
A lavish affair that is dampened by 'Justine's' apparent dis-interest in the expensive celebration put together on her behalf.
Meanwhile the planet 'Melancholia' which has broken away from it's distant orbit is growing larger in the sky.
The second part is 'CLAIR' which tells the tale of the fall out following sister 'Justine's' wedding celebration and husband's 'John's' fascination with the ever larger planet in the sky assuring his wife that the two planets will not collide.
Must admit this was one of the strangest films i've seen for for a long time, for me it shouldn't have worked, however the truth is i was totally pulled in....................strangely worth a spin.
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on 4 May 2013
I feel sorry for two groups of people: those who have seen this film and don't appreciate it and those who have never seen it. Personally, I think this is one of the best films of the last few years and my favourite Lars von Trier film, nudging Dogville Dogville [DVD]into second place.

The film is beautiful to watch, intelligent, thought-provoking and a true original. I will probably wear out my copy soon as I can watch it over and over; there's always something new to discover and wonder at.

Unlike any other film you'll ever see and a paradigm shift from the director's other work.

If you don't appreciate it, perhaps you weren't the intended audience.
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on 14 February 2013
My favourite film in a very long time [probably since South Park the Movie]. Visually gorgeous, I have watched it on Blu-Ray but am desperate to see it in the cinema. Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Charlotte Rampling are impeccable. And it is hard to think of another film that coldly strips away our comforting distractions from death such as science, marriage, work, shopping - and indeed art and culture - but does it so beautifully. And with an ending that despite its complete rejection of hope or self-deception, still feels utterly human and real. A work of art.
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on 2 March 2014
This is a very unsettling portrayal of depression and mental isolation. The acting and writing are excellent and I haven't met anyone who hasn't responded strongly to it. The cinematography has remained in my memory as the most striking and touching imagery I think I have ever seen in a film - on a par with Ingmar Bergman's handling of these subjects. My favourite part of this film is the genius choice of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde as the soundtrack. This absolutely makes the film. Nothing else could communicate deep, almost unbearable, sadness and the surreal, disturbing sense of uncanny.
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Melancholia is the story of two sisters; Justine (Kirsten Dunst) & Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg - Antichrist - also by Lars von Trier). The former is celebrating her wedding at Claire & her husband John's (Kiefer Sutherland) magnificent estate. It coincides with one of the biggest celestial events ever; a 'flyby' of a blue planet named "Melancholia" that has been 'hiding' in the blind spot behind the Sun and will now pass closely past earth in the coming days. But Justine, already struggling with depression, begins to feel suffocated by fear, has vivid dreams and a terminal case of foreboding, her warring family & sympathetic husband (Alexander Skarsgård - Straw Dogs 2011) try to placate her but she is certain that Melancholia signals the end and has time to prepare herself whilst others panic.

Melancholia is a difficult film to call, the opening five minutes show the planets moving closer together to an epic orchestral score that pervades the rest of the film in theme and repetition. So we already know the fate of the planets before the film has played out. What is interesting is how Lars von Trier shows us the interactions of the protagonists and how they each deal with the impending doom; some clinging to false-hopes and other accepting their fate and insignificance in the entire scheme of things.

The direction is impeccable, credit to Lars von Trier here, although the incessant flitting through time sometimes makes the narrative difficult to follow. Dunst's character is mercurial and difficult to follow her motivations sometimes, but by the end you understand her more for the journey. Von Trier stated that he was inspired by his own depression, that depressed people often act more rationally during periods of extreme stress than non-depressed people. This is shown in the two acts 1.Justine & 2.Charlotte that follow the respective characters.

Seems slow in parts and sometimes overly arty but builds to a fever-pitch and finishes abruptly leaving you pondering its meaning and the intrinsic beauty of the experience. Left me thinking and something I would definitely watch again. Deep, arty and moving, this is definitely worthy of your time!!
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on 26 April 2016
Melancholia is a wonderful blancmange of biscuity madness topped with a fruity syrup of unsettling ennui. On the surface the main plot revolves around the fortunes of two very different sisters Jane and the title character Melancholia.
Jane is married to Jack Bauer and they have a son Kim who gets kidnapped sparking a chase across Europe to try to rescue him.

The titular baddies are obviously middle-eastern terrorists who’ve somehow managed to get their hands on a functioning nuclear warhead. Melancholia is able to use the internet to track them down to their lair and Jack Bauer using a horse and surprisingly a bomb-laden golf cart, arrives to wreck vengeance.

At this point most viewers will either bemoan the lack of realism or just go with it. I went with it and boy am I glad I did. Jack manages to free Kim after a shot-out and rides off with him on the horse. End film, roll credits?

No way!

Kim gets captured again – this time by a serial killer.
Jack ones again heads off to find him.

Melancholia tries to use the internet but the power lines has been cut to the chateau. This can only mean one thing. You guessed it. The serial killer was just waiting for Jack to leave and has been hiding in the stables under some hay the whole time.

Will Jack realise?
Is Kim a goner?
What’s happened with Jane this whole time?

No spoilers from me, you’ll just have to watch the film to find out.

Another white-knuckle thrill-ride from Von Trier.
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At the end of it all, despite all best endeavours of forever clambering human beings, the silent forces of the universe will eventually roll on in and smother the world. These forces will trundle over all beliefs, creeds, races, life forms and dreams, leaving nothing, not a trace. The universe will continue as if they never existed. Therefore, as the film highlights, what do we do in between - being born and the final destiny is vital.

To describe those characters who inhabit the film - they operate within an invented surrogate world, residing within the secret cave, where the real external world not longer exists, expelled by a force of imagination. This has allowed them to hide away from the over arching reality which blows outside their bubble - a common problem which exists external to the film, which the viewer inhabits. When this show piece is fatally punctured to show the ever hurtling abyss, the human shutters are quickly closed and the conversation about house prices formally resumes.

All external threats are drowned within the tedium of ennui, as the beginning of the film highlights. Reality is swamped within various life costs; sex, money displays, advertising tack, social clambering and other conspicuous forms of consumption to impress the neighbours. For as the director points out, human beings are very unsure of themselves and so need to seek recompense in continuous projections of ill afforded lifestyles otherwise their life lacks meaning. So within the current malaise they embark upon a pretend existence.

Meanwhile, outside of the socially composed bubble, soundless forces rage around the universe, each operates external to this collective human hallucination, grounded upon more primal elements - the origins of the time.

Within the film we see two sisters, the first Justine, a woman who lapses into complete nihilism; a surrender into the nothingness who eventually becomes inert to the world revolving around her.

Then we see her sister, the main character in the second part of the film who tries to pull her out of her malaise through infusing an aesthetic of beauty into her. Meanwhile her husband the man of science tries to appear rational and aloof, forever making charts and viewing the world through his telescope. Science we are informed, by the story, counts for little - about as much as religion within the final moments. It has been made up to describe the world we choose to inhabit, and when it faces its final test, it crumbles.

So within the film the issue of nihilism, nothingness, arises consistently - it rears as an overarching paralysis, raising all types of questions for those who remain and exist. These are finally answered by a huge surge of melancholia surging forward at the end, the vast engulfing power of the final moment.

Not a film for the usual sense of watching through a window and then being led into a candy striped world of escapism - where there are subsequent Prozac/Citalopram style happy ending resolutions - the standard product of consumption.

Operating as the complete opposite of the standard American fare, because instead of putting a reassuring hand on the shoulder this aims to unsettle and distort the viewers perception, not glaze them with cheap adrenaline rushes.

Therefore this is only for those who wish to inhabit other worlds and then receive a painful reminder they do not exist except in your head. Through trying to escape from reality, this will only rub your nose in any desire to keep a personal distance. For those hardier elements who want to embark upon a quest of introspection - a form of mindfulness - this film is for you, by definition obviously higher types.
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on 3 February 2012
This is a difficult starkly beautiful meditation on melancholia (the old clinical picture rather than more modern conception of severe depression) and the inescapability of death. The wedding of Justine forms the first act as the planet Melancholia appears from behind the sun...a wonderful metaphor which anyone familiar with myth, alchemy and the works of Jung, Campbell and Hillman would appreciate...just as Justine's attempts to mask her illness and 'smile' at her wonderful wedding fail and lead to disintegration with caustic discontent and sabotage. The second act finds Justine being cared for by her sister and wealthy husband who presents a positivistic illision of hope as the planet moves nearer to earths orbit. The ending, with the suicide of the husband and the construction of the willow branches as the planet looms nearer is gripping and moving. A previous reviewer has commented that the lack of tv, radio broadcasts, other 'people' ect was bemusing. I think these facts added to the film and focused it rather than descending into stereotypical hollywood 'hysteria'. A powerful film with a powerful message about human fragility and the paralysing inescapable existential awareness of death and annihilation. Loved it :)
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on 5 February 2014
A little bit creepy, could happen or could it not?
A beautifull story, beautifully filmed, a wonderfull Kirsten Dunst and of course Wagners Tristan and Isolda, the appropreate music I think
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