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I saw some reviews for this that were quite varied, with some saying it was a creative masterpiece whilst others condemned it as rubbish. Avoiding the blurb meant I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but some of this film still came as a bit of a shock. I can't say I thought this was anything amazing, but it was definitely different so I'm still glad I watched it.
Antichrist was written and directed by Lars von Trier who has worked on several pieces, including Melancholia, Kingdom Hospital (TV) and Dogville, so he has some experience in the film industry. The premise is fairly straightforward, at least on first impressions. We're introduced to two key characters, referred to only as He and She. Following the devastating death of her child, Nic, She collapses and spends an unconscious month in the hospital. He, the husband, is a therapist and decides to help her through the process as best he can.
The film is broken down in to 4 chapters, like a book, plus epilogue. The first chapter is where we see He's attempts to help his wife. He beings by having Her throw out her prescription meds and try to ride it out at home, but rather than talking and dealing with the grief, she turns to sex to numb it all out. Exposure therapy is the next trick in the bag. She reveals she's most afraid of a certain cabin in the woods, a place where she spent the previous summer with Nic writing a thesis on genocide. Together, He and She head to the cabin in the woods, referred to as Eden. Chapter two, titled 'Chaos Reigns', shows us She as she becomes more manic with her grief. She turns again to sex but He is determined to utilize psychotherapy to soothe away her grief and fears, despite the woods becoming increasingly threatening to She due to her increasing fear of nature. The third chapter is Despair, where He discovers what materials She was using for her Genocide thesis. We also learn more of She's fears, self-blame, and irrational belief that women are evil. I won't say any more on this chapter or the next as I don't want to give much away on the premise, but things go from bad to worse as He tries to help She, much to her dislike at times.
What I liked about this was its originality, both in the style of the film laid out in chapters and in its content. It was interesting to see a woman dealing with such grief and self-blame, and how this can quickly spiral out of control. What made the film was really the elements of horror that were mingled in throughout their time in the cabin, including things they saw and things that happened. It created quite a dark atmosphere, one of foreboding and violence waiting to happen, helping us empathise with She's fear of nature a little more as we start to see the creepiness that resides there too.
The cast really focused on He and She predominantly, played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg respectively. Both played their roles quite well as grieving parents; Gainsbourg was neurotic and manic in quite a dramatic, slightly disturbing way, and Dafoe was concerned yet professional as the psychologist husband. Together, I found them easier to relate to in an empathetic sense and found them easy enough to watch. The fact that the film focused in on them as protagonists, pretty much isolated from the rest of the world whilst in the cabin, drew attention to them and a lot relied on their performances. At times I thought they could have been stronger, but that was mostly because of the script and premise.
As for the pace, it was quite slow at times. In fact, throughout the film it had quite a quiet feel to it because they were isolated out in the woods. This actually made a good contrast to when there was stuff going on, such as when She started to get out of hand with her emotions. However, it did slow the film down enough to make it a little boring at these times, which was more often than not. Some parts also didn't seem particularly clear and although there was some background behind She, I would have liked more clarity and reasoning behind her as a character, and the same probably goes for He.
There was one part in particular that was quite shocking and noteworthy. You'll know what I'm referring to if you've seen this I think. I'm not sure if this made me think the film was trying too hard to shock, but at least it stood out and made me remember the film, plus I know I ended up mentioning it to other people. At the very least, it made it more interesting.
I didn't think the premise was particularly believable, but it was intriguing enough to see the events, and indeed the characters, unravel. There wasn't much depth to it outside of what we see happen, but from a psychological perspective (as a graduate with a love for psych, I liked this angle) it sparked my curiosity. A stronger ending may have strengthened my positive feelings towards the film, whereas I was left feeling slightly disappointed, bored predominantly apart from certain events, and thinking that it was perhaps trying a little too hard to be arty and different.
This flick actually did very well at the Cannes Film Festival and will probably go down as one of the most controversial films that has had a cinema release in the UK, though I don't actually remember this being on at the cinema. I can see why it would do well at Cannes as it was fairly artistic in its own way, coming across as being a bit different to the norm.
Would I recommend? I would just for the sake of being able to say you've seen it for yourself, especially for the 'shocking' moments. It was enjoyable enough and one I talked about and actually remembered parts of after watching, though I can't give it too high a rating because overall I still found it a bit unbelievable and dull.
DVD released 2010, running time 104 minutes, rated Certificate 18
Selling on Amazon for £8.29
Divided into four chapters, a prologue and an epilogue, "Antichrist" is a dark story about the aftermath of a family tragedy. Whilst making love a man and a woman do not hear their infant son leave his cot and fall to his death from his bedroom window. In an effort to help his wife manage her grief, the man (Willem Defoe), a trained psychiatrist, takes his wife (Charlotte Gainsborg) to a cabin the woods she says she fears the most. This is a type of exposure therapy he believes will help his wife through her grief. However, he is not prepared for his wife's increasingly violent sexual acts against him and the dark visions that haunt him in the woods...
"Antichrist" is an aggressively confrontational film. When I say aggressive I don't just mean savage or cruel realism either. That would be too easy. There is something in virtually every scene designed to unsettle a viewer in some way or another. Its very concept is both paradoxically arrogant in its simplicity - aside from the very brief scenes featuring their toddler son the only characters are the unnamed man and the woman - and complex in the ambiguity of its messages. Of the latter one might be prompted to ask whether it preaches a misogynistic or extreme feministic message or neither. Does it celebrate nature or does it present it as a fundamental force that will be forever the opponent of humans? The film's title and its apparent revelation in the epilogue would imply the latter, but I won't spoil anything.
The film's style is a clear homage to Russian director, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Antichrist's director, Lars Von Trier dedicates it to him. The straight and realistic drama blends seamlessly into surreal scenes containing powerful metaphors. When the horror comes it is uncompromisingly gruesome and yet despite the film's scenes of hardcore real sex (doubled by the way) nothing in "Antichrist" seems pornographic. You do not feel you are looking through the lingering angled lens of an Eli Roth picture. This is juxtaposed with the film's wide shots, which are another blatant emulation of Tarkovsky, and are so beautiful that they could be lifted out as perfect stills. Beauty as a contrast to visceral and unflinching horror is a powerful technique if handled well. In this case it is handled in a way that approaches true mastery. If not for a certain off-putting "artiness" that creeps in here and there, this film could described as a truly well-executed new turn in one of cinema's most populated genres.
Horror is always in need of a shot in the arm. Next to comedy it is the most under-rated yet over-flowing genres in the world. Not since "Ringu" have I seen a horror that did something that was both different and effective. There's been some great films - "The Descent", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" re-make, "Audition", "Saw" and the wonderful "Masters of Horror" series all come to mind - but there is no obvious attempt to go somewhere else. "Antichrist", along with "Let the Right One In", might just change that. Amid the Blair Witch rip-offs, the (please God!) death-throws of torture porn and the slew of re-makes of horror icons, we might be seeing the slight rise of something a little different - something a little more thoughtful. "Antichrist", whilst not making a huge impact on the genre (many argue whether or not it is a horror film at all), has at least shown us that the genre can be provocative on more than one front.
As a bit of a horror film fanatic and as someone who likes bizarre and shocking films when I saw this film advertised I thought it was a must see for me.
I bought the film for £8 from HMV, although I'm sure that within a few months this proce will drop down. The film stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg who play their parts well.
When I first watched it, I was initially gripped by the introduction to the film, a slow motion black and white portrayal of how the death of the couple's toddler son came about. The rest of the film then looks at how the couple try to piece together their marriage and their lives after this tragedy.
After retiring to their woodland lodge things start to get very strange, creatures, such as foxes, in the wood are not quite as they seem and it soon materialises that the female of the couple is not quite as she seems either as it builds up to some horrifying events towards the end of the film (which I won't describe or it will spoil it for you!).
It is a difficult film to describe, I have to admit when I was watching it I was at times thinking 'when is something going to happen?', it really wasn't the type of 'horror' film I expected it to be. However, this film has had a lasting impact on me due to the unusual way the story unfolded, the way it was filmes, the eeriness of it all, the anticipation throughout and the troubling events that occur.
At times I found it hard to watch, it was disturbing and at times made my skin crawl, but I think these are all the features of a really good horror. It can by no means be described as a 'run of the mill' horror film and is quite unique.
It isn't my fave horror film and there are a few bits that could have been explained more clearly (especially the ending!) and it is for this that I give it 4 stars rather than 5.
Antichrist is a horror film. I am not one for watching and enjoying horror films because they just dont scare me. Although antichrist has an introduction which is in slow motion and I could not bare to watch it. It was twisted and completely shocking. It starts with a husband and wife having sex and there son who looks about two years of age walks out of his bedroom and walks into his parents room seeing them having intercourse with one another. The parents did not see him so he stands up on to the window ledge to watch the snow and he falls out in slow motion holding onto his beloved teddy beear. Anyone with kids will hate watching this. Now this is the introduction of the film and the music in this introduction is very powerful and dark and is just amazing who ever composed it and put it together.
The film then goes on as I am not going to give away the storyline but there is bits of the film were it is so gorry and bloody I could not look at the tv. The film is a terror and horrific film which is just brillant. It is the best horror film I have ever seen. There is a lot of sex scenes in the film which I do not like watching but this film is twisted and dark and daunting. It is very hard to follow and it is a cliff hanger you just do not want to miss any part of the film. Watch it if you dare
OK let me start by saying the writing film reviews are probably not my forte, which I am sure you will agree when you read this one. I'm a bit of a wee taking bugger, finding fun where other people probably do not (with the exception of my daughter who while watching one of the Hostel films kept replying a certain horrific part and laughing her head off)
While browsing blockbusters for some evening entertainment my girlfriend and I came across Antichrist and decided to give it a go.
We took it to the counter with another DVD only to throw the guy serving into a bit of a panic. Are we sure we want to watch this film? Have we heard anything about it? These were his questions, we had heard that it was a little on the *nasty* side but had watched many other blood and gore films so were not concerned about what we had heard. The chappie continued to stress his concern at our choice especially as the other film we had chosen was The Time Travellers Wife. Him pointing that out made the guy in the queue next to me burst out laughing and shake his head as he looked at us. This just made me more inclined to see the film and we again told the guy serving us that we were sure. (Ok I did check with the girlfriend first that she would accompany me to the bathroom if needs be.)
We decided to watch this one first just in case it gave us the willies. So settled down on the sofa along with the dog and a cushion to hide behind.
Antichrist tells the story of a couple played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg that lose their son and this is how it begins, all slow motion, black and white (just the beginning) and during a hefty passionate sex session (real sex, which you are warned about on the back of the DVD) It switches between the sex and the child's journey to his demise, both scenes *climax* at the same time. I must confess to having a little giggle at the *feel like God but look like goofy* expressions on the couples faces, (I'm such a child)
The couple have different ways of dealing with their grief, he is a therapist and goes through all the natural stages of grief, she on the other hand has medication to numb her so that she doesn't have to face it.
He manages to convince her that therapy is what she needs and that he will give it to her. She agrees and they go to Eden to stay in their cabin. What follows is a rollercoaster on her part, one minute being sane the next turning into some vicious devil woman
The film contains copious amounts of sex, which is one of the ways that she deals with her grief. This often happens during a panic attack which looks very distressing but the husband always manages to rise to the occasion which amazes me as one would assume that seeing your loved one so distressed would be the last thing to provoke the necessary (you have no idea how many times I am replacing words here!)
He finds stories and drawings that she has done which show women as being evil, also some photos where she has put her sons shoes on the wrong foot causing a slight deformity which showed up in his autopsy, which begs the question as to why he had never noticed this.
She goes from being *normal* to accusing him of being a bad father, neglecting her and their son (maybe that's why he didn't notice the shoes on the wrong feet) to jumping his bones all in a matter of minutes.
He on his little adventures around the gorgeous greenery comes across the 3 beggars, which are a slightly mutilated fox that talks, a bird that will not die no matter how hard he smashes it with a rock and a deer that has a baby deer hanging out of her...can anyone say BIZZARE!
There are just a few violent scenes when she decides that her husband is going to leave her and comes up with a way to immobilise him. He is rendered unconscious and again manages to *rise* something she takes advantage of, this again is another *eww* moment. The most extreme part (for me anyway) involves a pair of scissors and her *lady button*, Ok I'm going to fess up here and admit that I closed my eyes!
I'm not going to give away the ending here, but will just say that when it finished my girlfriend and I just looked at each other, said "Right then* and then shoved the next DVD in.
How much you will enjoy this film depends on what you like, if you want to be gripping the end of your seat then this is not the film.
I have read reviews where people have said that Antichrist left them thinking, for me that thought was, what was all the fuss about.
Maybe it had something that I missed (being only of average intelligence). Or maybe it just was not what I expected and got myself prepared for, either way I won't be adding it to my collection.
Antichrist is rated 18
Lars Von Trier, Danish director of Antichrist, is well known for generating controversy and upset within his films. From 1998's fantastic, incestuous Festen, to his disability-focused The Idiots in the same year, Von Trier has forever dabbled in the shocking and unsettling. After viewing Antichrist, I can safely say that Von Trier has in no way lost his disturbing touch.
The story begins, of course, with tragedy, effectively setting the tone for the rest of the film. We watch in monochrome as - silently bar an operatic soundtrack - a couple we will come to know as 'He' and 'She' (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) make love, and their young unattended son falls to his death from an open window. What follows is how the couple deal with their son's death, with He desperately attempting to tend to She as she falls into despair and madness, racked with fear. After some lengthy discussions and psychotherapy, He eventually discovers that the root of his partner's fears stem from an isolated area in the woods, a peaceful yet somewhat sinister haven that She visited with her son in the past. The secluded cabin She had been housed in is aptly named 'Eden', preparing us for the meaty religious subtexts encompassing the film. After learning of her fears, they decide to visit Eden again, in an effort to deliver She from her trepidation.
Admittedly, the film is slow to start after the rather explicit opening, with much of the action taking place in a hospital, or in the couple's home as He soothes She when she wakes up trembling in the dark. However, this lets Dafoe and Gainsbourg showboat their incredible talent, bringing a very real sense of humanity to their roles. Gainsbourg is relentless in her energy as an incredibly believable woman tormented, while Dafoe very much portrays a man in love, urgently striving to 'cure' She. The cinematography during these scenes is also fantastic, creating a tense atmosphere early on which sets up a strong foundation for the rest of the film. Close ups of racing pulses and trembling fingers combined with Gainsbourg's ragged breathing only adds to the film's eerie undercurrents.
The pace of the film escalates as the couple reach Eden, and She takes a turn for the worse, becoming increasingly disturbed by her surroundings and insisting that 'nature is Satan's church'. Probably a wild claim to make, until Von Trier makes even acorns seem threatening as they rain down on the cabin incessantly, and a self-disemboweling fox snarls to He that 'chaos reigns'. It's certainly not the average horror film, despite the later images of gore. Instead, Von Trier primarily focuses on the psychological aspects of fear, and makes use of disturbing visual images that gives the film a real sinister edge. Saying this, there are of course moments that have sparked the controversy that Von Trier thrives on, and they are by no means pretty. Be warned that there are real (and numerous) sex scenes, as well as some gruesome torture scenes, and of course, the infamous moment involving She and some scissors that I shan't go into here.
However, if you can endure the more risqué elements of Antichrist you're definitely in for a treat. The film is abundant in metaphors that mostly escape modern horror films, and includes a lot of imagery that relates to Christianity and Original Sin, from a rock being rolled over a fox hole to She's ravings that 'women are evil'. It's certainly an arthouse film, which is nothing less than what we'd expect from Von Trier, and his style could be said to be pretentious, with several 'arty' techniques such as the film being split into chapters, but this rather adds to the film than takes away from it. Von Trier's focus on cinematography greatly heightens the beauty of the film and, at times, is so well executed that it creates fear and tension all on its own.
I feel that I haven't gone into the more disturbing aspects of this film as much as I should have, as this is what has catapulted Antichrist into popularity and controversy. However, I implore you to watch this film for different reasons - this is a very original, intense film that stars two incredible actors and is both beautiful and shocking, and worth at least one viewing simply for the breath-taking cinematography and accomplished directing.
Antichrist...Anti-me more like!
A Lars Von Trier film starring William DeFoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
This film was nothing like what I initially thought it would be. I assumed from the title that it was going to be some satan worshipping cheesey gore. However, I couldn't have been further from the truth.
The story follows a husband who is trying to help his wife overcome depression after an unfortunate tragedy. This film displays some rather explicit and disturbing scenes right from the offset. I was quite surprised to see what looked like actual penetration and the husband's willy (which was not flacid), I didn't realise this was allowed!! Anyway, we also see deer giving birth to stillborns, a spooky talking disembowled fox, the wife attacking her husband and performing sex acts on him whilst he is unconscious, self mutilation of the leg crossing, eye-watering kind!...
I am a huge fan of psychological horrors and gore etc. However, this film made me feel rather at unease. I think it was a case of overstepping the mark. I think that films like this get it wrong showing too much detail, I feel that the pure suggestion of something happening can be much more effective.
The ending, for me is no better. This film proves nihilistic and much ado about nothing.
I know this film has had some really good reviews but I put it down to another clanger I have wasted my money and time on.
Despite a love of conventional movie 'entertainment', I've always been a fan of the more thought provoking cinema too. David Lynch filled the void for me, but since his retreat into executive producer roles, he's directed little of note recently. It was simple curiousity which drew me and a friend to this film. Daily Mail outrage combined with my favourite cult movie websites purring with approval proved a tempting combination. On top of this Lars Von Trier directed a film called 'Dancing in The Dark' which sounded harrowing enough to drive grown men to tears.. I was hooked...
Antichrist is the story of a recently unnamed, bereaved couple, played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte and Charlotte Gainsbourg. The film opens with the moment of their young son's death, Nic falls out of a balcony window whilst they are making love. Hitting the snowy pavement below just as She climaxes.
It is apparent that she is taking her son's death very hard. She is taken to hospital for treatment and is obviously very sedated when He comes to visit. Being a psychiatrist himself, the Dafoe character is very distrustful of the treatment his wife receives. After some unsuccessful home sessions in which she takes solace in making love, he takes her to a woodland cabin which they share, named Eden, from which she can face her grief and hopefully be relieved of it.
She sleeps through the journey and seems calmer, he seems to be in control of her treatment and it looks like progress is being made. However it's upon entering the forest that notions of his mastery of the situation start slipping away. Nature is indifferent to him, and sometimes hostile. The sinister gunfire sound which keeps the couple awake at night turns out to be acorns from an oak tree above the roof, upon leaving a window ajar at night he finds several embedded in his arm. The crowning moment of other-worldliness occurs when he stumbles across a disembowelled fox which utters the words "Chaos Reigns"...
If there has even been more of a moment of collective audience puzzlement I'm yet to experience it...
It is at this point that She finally becomes unhinged and turns on her husband. After being hideously maimed, He manages to escape and hides in a nearby fox-hole. She is tipped off to his location by a crow which is buried alongside where he hides (nature conspiring to help, perhaps?) and drags him back to the cabin to seemingly finish him off. He manages to strangle her before limping back to civilisation. The final scene is a the only glimmer of brightness to the film. On the following sunny morning, He stumbles down a steep hill to face a tide of women streaming past him, their faces blurred to the viewer. He watches them pass with a thoughtful expression on his face..
'Antichrist' certainly defies conventional analysis. In the spirit of art-house cinema, a review of the film does it little justice as the subject matter is so enigmatic. Dafoe and Gainsbourg will certainly win no awards, but certainly express the full spectrum of despair and negativity throughout. Gainsbourg in particular plays the role of unanchored wild woman with terrifying authenticity. Her moments of complete, horrible torment are what make 'Antichrist' so compelling, reminiscent of Sarah Goldfarb's dealing with demons in 'Requiem for a Dream'. It's like that 5 car pile-up you pass on the motorway: visceral and horrible but you just can't look away.
I've glossed over the frankly quite hideous violence which has generated much publicity for this film, mostly negative. It seems like the director has a tendency to go out of the way to shock his viewers, possibly at the expense of any higher minded ideals. For instance, the movie opens with baby Nic's demise, the music is soothing and orchestral, the action is slow mo - two people obviously relishing a shared moment of ecstacy. Von Trier intercuts a single moment of pornographic clarity that cannot fail to get the viewer sitting upright in their seat. The violence is beyond the torture porn of Hostel and the like, here it feels even more disturbing as it's so symbolic and deliberate."Antichrist" has polarised critical opinion unlike any I have ever heard of - "truly exceptional" according to one critic, but ""a disgusting piece of work that aims to do little more than shock and provoke its audience in any way it possibly can." according to another.
For me, this film stands out due to its sheer uniqueness. As a layman, I'd struggle to pick the finer nuances of the point the director is trying to get across. If it is anything other than trying to shock the viewer and gross them out. The title seems to allude to nature and woman's diametric opposition to the light and logic of the male (putting my movie geek hat on, thats what I reckon, anyway...)There are strong themes of misogynism evident, Von Trier seems to be linking the female to the anarchic chaos of the natural world, but beyond that it's anyones guess. I'd argue that the film-maker's role is to leave a lasting effect on the viewer. "Antichrist" certainly left me with plenty to think about.
"Antichrist" is available on DVD and Bluray from Amazon.co.uk.. if you're into that sort of thing of course..
Also written on ciao.co.uk under the same name.
When I see a film, I really want to feel engaged and part of what is going on, like an extension of my own little world. That couple of hours (ish) of escapism is a chance to let go of the stress of life and just be. Now I'm going to talk about a film that left me feeling so passive and detached that I wondered what I had just watched and why I really enjoyed it.
Antichrist is a stylish art house film from controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier that deals with the agony of grief and the erosive effect on the dynamics of a relationship. The strength of this film lies in its skill to draw you in so much into the pain that ultimately you are ejected with little explanation or understanding.
The film centres around a couple who are left devastated by the death of their only child who falls to his death whilst the couple are having sex. Unable to control her grief she is admitted to psychiatric care but her therapist husband is distrusting of their medicative methods and take her away. He uses therapeutic techniques on her in an isolated cabin where she can confront her grief and realise that grief itself is a process and that the anxiety she feels cannot harm her. The film is split into six sections:
Prologue: This deals with the time of their sons death and alternately flicks between shots of them having sex whilst the child is going towards and open window.
Chapter 1-Grief: This short section relates the period of the funeral where the woman collapses to the hospital admission. The husband decides to use exposure therapy to treat her and they travel to an isolated cabin called Eden in which she spent time writing her thesis with her son Nic.
Chapter 2-Chaos Reigns: Here follows the arrival to the wooded area around the cabin and the woman becomes fearful and runs off towards the trees. An unspecified amount of time elapses during which they have therapy sessions and her behavior becomes more erratic.
Chapter 3-Gynocide: The man discovers his wife's thesis material in the upper floor of the cabin. It is full of historical texts relating to misogyny and her belief of the inherent evil of woman. There is intense physical and psychological violence.
Chapter 4-The Three Beggars: The act reveals the relevance of the three beggars and draws towards the climax and ultimate confrontation.
Epilogue: The end depicts the ghostly symbolism of oppression and liberation against the misogynistic style.
The film, despite it's grim topic and graphic violence, has a beautiful ethereal feel to it. Vivid, slow motion shots are complimented by haunting music. The muted colour pallet gives a sense of morbid desperation and this is re-enforced effectively by the use of explosive and graphic violence interspersed with periods of dull contemplation. This artistic juxtaposition holds your attention throughout and the awkward switch between light and dark is handled superbly.
As I previously stated I felt detached after watching this movie yet I also said it's power was in it's ability drawing you in. My explanation of this is that the film uses the familiar context of grief and utilizes it's power to drive us so far from our comfort zone that we are left feeling numb or even traumatized.
It would be very easy to say that film uses sex and violence with the explicit intention of courting controversy, which it did, but the project as a whole is still rather elegant. Whatever the intentions of the director he created a thing of beauty and a minor masterpiece. The work was written at a time of deep depression and you could see that vicious personal angst was present but it did not detract from the film in any way.
Stylish cinema with potent direction and great substance. The film is both bleak and beautiful and the intoxicating tension between the leads is shattered by horrific violence. On the fringe of mainstream, the content does veer into indie territory and whilst in its full uncut form is both stark and uncompromising it is utterly essential and relevant. This film deserves to be seen and whilst you may not choose to add it to your permanent collection it demands to be seen at least once.
Lars Von Trier
unnamed leads played by:
I came out of this movie, totally mermerised, still reeling form the experience i went through, and that is probably the best way I know to describe it - it is an experience! You feel genuingly enravaged by the notion that you have just been through something, and like many of Lars von Trier films, you feel better for having gone through it.
The story centres around a couple, who lose their young son when he falls out the window while they are engaged in a highly passionate bout of love-making - the sequence so beautifully captured in monochrome and accompanied by 'Lascia ch'io pianga' from 'Rinaldo by George Friedrich Handel.
The grief stricken mother (played by Charlotte Gainsborough) is consigned to hospital, but her therapist husband (William Defoe) brings her home intent on treating her depression himself by taking her head first through the A-Z of dealing with such a trauma.
To confront her fears they go to stay at their remote cabin in the woods, "Eden", and there the drama unfolds to reveal a more disturbing portrait of Gainsborough's character and revelations about something far more sinister that happened the previous summer, and details acts of lustful cruelty and unfolds the darker side of nature outside and within.
The story builds unsuspectingly through out and carefully plays out infront of you revealing the mysteries that it alludes to from the off. Cinematically speaking, Lars Von Trier disects the horror genre aptly, playing with his style to accomodate all audience manipulation cliches associated with it, but taking them just a little further to a more cultured cinema going audience, and making it work.
The central performances are both highly impressive from both William Defoe and Charlotte Gainsborough. They are totally engaging through out, and the deconstruction of their relationship and characters totally riveting. The film is highly recommended for the cinephiles and otherwise, but don't go in expecting your run-of-the-mill contemporary horror, as you'll no doubt come out disappointed.
I don't really know what to think of Antichrist. It's either smarter than I think or dumber than I think, and I can't really work out which, so I'm not going to rate it. The director Lars Von Trier has always attempted to go beyond the limits of what could be shown in a movie without compromising his artistic vision.
And in antichrist he succeeds. A sometimes hard and grueling movie to watch - I am at this point, a mere 1½ hour after exciting the movie theater, still deeply affected by the fantastic imagery and the cruel nauseating violence and self molestation.
Perhaps you have to be Danish to appreciate the horrific torture pornography, who knows??... Americans have more sense thankfully, and do not call everything art simply because the director is foreign." I have no idea why it should matter where the other reviewers are from. That has nothing to do with "Antichrist" as a film. Some like it and some don't, no matter what country they are from.
If I don't like an American film I don't go out and bash on reviewers from America and then state that Danes have more sense - what's that all about? Sense of what?. If someone like von Trier makes a horror movie, it is hardly likely to be standard fare. He makes films that provide himself and his audiences with thorny intellectual challenges.
This results both in adherents and those which dismiss his work as pretentious. (Inasmuch as this review is partly interpretative, other viewers may find their own preferred readings which differ from the approach given here.). The movie is sometime painful to watch, not in a "Saw" or "Hostel" kind of way, but when you leave the theater you feel genuinely uncomfortable, and that is one of the reasons why i liked this movie.
It's a movie like nothing i've experienced and I'm glad that we have directors like Lars Von Trier that dares to make a film like this. The film is graphic, but more so for the paradoxes it raises. Men find it hard to reconcile the comforting warmth of the vagina with the monstrosity it becomes at birth within sanitised hospital surroundings. Menstration is itself now ambiguous, the regular heavy flow of blood stymied by a world of plastic bags, air fresheners and pre-cooked meat.
The cinematography was brilliant, the shots were beautifully composed, most wouldn't be out of place as still images on their own. The sound and post production was perfect, a litany of heart thudding moments and breath holding captured by the crescendo of rushing winds and thudding acorns.
When everyone is writing how shocking this movie is (and that just refers to 2 scenes I guess... funny how anything mixing sex and violence still shocks people... ) and you are served such a pretentious snooze fest no wonder people walk out before they fall asleep. You can interpret the movie in many ways, thats fine... BUT just dropping in religious and psychological references doesn't make a movie smart.
I think the way that many react to criticism of this movie shows a lot of self-righteousness and snobby mentality of many Von trier fans. There are some images (not just the most brutal ones: see the slow-mo deer in labour, wow) that will stick around with me for a while and conveyed better in a single frame the ideas swirling about here than half an hour of chat.
Other main key aspects which are supposed to set it apart from its less arty stable-mates are the much touted "explicit" and shocking graphic sex scenes. What does he have to add with this feature? Is it that all evil which falls upon people is intrinsically immanent in human nature?
Having experienced or witnessed a critical amount of grief, pain and despair man comes to some point when even a concept of good, God, hope or whatever you call it is becoming virtually inconceivable and after that chaos reigns?
That to fight that man has to kill an evil in himself which he might love? But this fight is doomed anyway if a 'natural' arena for it is the world issued by Satan? It's a kindergarten philosophy.
The atmosphere in the film is very special, and even though not much is happening for the most part of the movie, it still managed to keep me excited for the whole time.
In conclusion, this is a movie unlike anything you have ever seen.
It's more bloody and brutal than you expect, even after reading this. I would not let me children (if I had any) see this movie, before the age of reason. My good luck is that no children will ever make it to the hardcore scenes, as they would get bored to death before they got there.
There's a fine line between what's art and what's downright filth and pornography. "Blue Velvet" is art, "Caligula" most certainly is not, and as for "Intimacy," I can argue for both. Lars von Trier enjoys pushing the boundaries with his films but his most recent "Antichrist" is his most challenging film yet. There have been so many stories surrounding the film, so many condemning the violence that a lot of people I know went to satisfy their curiosity. Half of them walked out and a few of them ran out at some point in the film. To be fair, there were people fainting and walking out at the Cannes Film Festival so who can blame them?
The film is divided into four chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue. Within five minutes into the film, there's a graphic sex scene which quite proudly shows the male genitalia in (God help us) slow-motion. Whilst He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) are having passionate sex, their young child falls out of a window and dies. Already, the film is giving off an incredibly disturbing and sinister vibe. Trying to deal with their grief, they travel to Eden, a cabin in the middle of the woods detached from the rest of the world. Since He is a psychiatrist, they try therapy but when nature that surrounds them start turning more and more evil and sinister, you know they won't last long at all.
All the horror stories involving the explicit nature of this film are all true. There's female castration, ejaculation of blood, self-harm, and the list goes on and on. How someone comes up with these ideas is beyond me and if you can't handle the violence and gore, it's obviously best to avoid this.
But before the final act, the film remains relatively calm, moving at a steady pace, engaging the audience with some intense character development. The build-up towards these horrific violent sexual acts is in fact very impressive. How von Trier uses trees, animals, (one of them is a talking fox, growling "chaos reigns") grass, and even conkers to bring out the characters' deepest, darkest fears is handled with absolutely no violence, very little soundtrack, relying completely on the atmosphere of the creepy forest. Von Trier clearly shows that He and She are changing simultaneously with the environment. As the events start getting more and more disturbing, and as they occur more and more frequently, their attitudes towards one another become more hateful, fuelled by anger and lust.
To an extent, why these two characters end up in such a psychological mess is explained. They are both wrecked with guilt, She being more affected than He. Their feelings become repressed until She snaps and spirals out of control. This process is portrayed perfectly by the two leads. Gainsbourg is so utterly convincing that even at the slightest hint of her mind deviating from sanity, we are all naturally bracing ourselves for something terrible. Dafoe tries desperately to help her but ends up becoming a victim to her cruel acts. They have terrific chemistry together, showing their deteriorating relationship with plenty of energy.
So the discomforting setting and both actors have been very successful so far at giving us plenty of terror. Did von Trier really need to go into all the violence? Was excessive violence yet another one of his brave experimental cinematic techniques? We'll never know, since his interviews provide no detailed insight into how he came to write and direct this film.
"Antichrist" should most preferably be seen on your own. If you at no point cry, faint, run out of the room or vomit, you've done well for yourself. Such a shame: the atmospheric, artistic beginning was shaping up to be one of the most original recent horror movies. But then von Trier had to overload the screen with horrific violence towards the end.
I had already read reviews of this movie so quickly snatched it from the shelf of the rental store and hurried home to watch it.
When we were warned by the store staff that it contained some graphic scenes we thought we were in for a real treat (not that we are gore freaks or anything )
As a true horror fan I sat clutching the favourite cushion ready to hide behind it and even discussed whether we should really be watching such a movie on Christmas eve.
Starring Willem Dafoe as the Husband and Charlotte Gainsborg as the Wife.
May I just sat they both look like they could do with a few decent meals (just an observation)
The story is about a strange couple who's small child is killed when he falls from their apartment window as they are making love something which they seem to do quite a lot throughout the movie.
After the funeral the wife has a breakdown and the Husband who is a therapist decides they will go away to a remote log cabin (Eden) to heal themselves.
The wife spent some time at the cabin with their small child during recent months.
This is where any reasonable storyline evaporates.
All I am saying is if you want to watch a soft porn movie then go ahead.
Yes there are some really strange and disturbing aspects to the movie but I must admit I found the only horror in the fact I had actualy paid to rent it.
There is no real conclusion to the movie, the only decent bit about the movie was the sountrack.
104 minutes of truly strange and dissapointing weirdness.
Give it a wide berth.
having got this dvd recently, i decided to watch it, despite my uncle who had previously saw it telling me not to bother wasting my time and he had actually turned it off.
the film its self seemed like a reasonable horror, however it was difficult to grasp from the start, and i think the sex scenes within the first 5minutes where slightly too graphic and i felt distracted and put off immediately! not a good first impression really is it?
quick overview of the plot:
the greiving couple, willem dafoe and charlotte gainsbourg loose there child in a horrific accident, and she handles it really badly. as can be expected..she suffers from depression but the father takes her to the woods in order to "therapise" her himself. from here on out, i can honestly say i have no idea what actually happens, other than everytime the woman seems to improve, she goes back over and turns pysco again.
it is shown in four parts, and it got to graphic by the fourth chapter i turned it off myself as i found i felt sick viewing it. i was completely confused by the film, and still cant see why anyone would make a plot up like this one.
i understand that it is about evil, but why have the need to show such intimacy ?
i would not reccomend this film, however if anyone does view it please feel free to explain it to me!
An unnamed couple lose their only child while making love when he falls, unnoticed, from a window. Devastated by the death, the woman is hospitalised for some time, unable to cope with her grief. Her lover is a therapist and decides that he is better placed to treat her and forces her to leave hospital. He later decides to take her to a cabin in a secluded location, one where she has visited in the past and of which has now developed an irrational fear. Once there, things initially seem to improve, but over an undisclosed period, she begins to lose grip on reality once again and strange things begin to happen. What exactly is going on? Will the couple survive whatever appears to be holding influence over them? Will they survive full stop?
Before I go any further, if you haven't yet heard of this film, released just this year, you will probably want to know that it has been described by critics as an 'abomination' amongst other things. There has been outrage that the British Film Institute has allowed the film to be shown uncut. Why? There are a number of scenes, particularly towards the end of the film, that are seriously horrific. I watch a great deal of horror and am largely desensitized towards it these days, but what I saw made me feel sick and faint, so much so that I had to wait until the credits had rolled at the end of the film because I was afraid I would keel over. I do, however, believe that the British Film Institute was right to allow the uncut version; people should have the freedom to watch whatever they like. Plus, as much as the film has been criticised, it has also been highly praised. Just make sure you know that you are going to be watching a film that you could find very disturbing before you watch it.
Willem Dafoe plays the man and, although I am a little surprised that he took the role on in the first place (perhaps because he has worked with the director in the past?), there is no doubt that he gives it his all. Initially, it is hard to feel a huge amount of sympathy for his character, just because he doesn't seem to grieve in the same way that his wife/lover does. His concern for her, however, is palpable, although his apparent desire to control her is a little worrying. Dafoe gives a really powerful performance at all times during the film, but he really does come into his own towards the end when he gives in to the fear. Much of the time, he isn't really talking, but the pain is etched all over his rugged face and it really is easy to feel the fear and pain along with him. We do get to see rather a lot of him - it seems that he is naked in every other scene - but that is no great hardship, because he's still in great shape.
Charlotte Gainsbourg plays the role of the woman. She is an extraordinary woman to look at. She is incredibly thin, with a long, flat face and, as she is either grieving or raving for much of the film, she isn't looking at her best during this film. Yet she is mesmerizing. Her grief for her son is deeply painful to watch and the audience's sympathies immediately lie with her. And I think this is what helps make the film so disturbing to watch. Unlike most horror, where we're actually glad to see the ditzy big-boobed blonde have her head chopped off, we really come to care about the main characters in this film. This really is a stunning performance by Gainsbourg, who received a Best Actress award at Cannes Film Festival - I've never really seen her in anything before, but after this performance, I will certainly be looking out for more of her work.
This film is directed by Lars von Trier, famous for the Dogme95 movement and for sexually explicit images in his films. This one is no different. One of the first scenes shows sexual penetration, there are frequent scenes of sex and explicit masturbation throughout the film and, towards the end, there is a mutilation that actually has to be seen to be believed. And then there is the violence, including a vomit-inducing scene involving someone's calf and a mill-stone and more. It really is deeply shocking and the 18 rating is most definitely called for. I'm usually fairly laissez-faire about moderately under-aged children watching horror, but in this case, I would advise parents to insist on it. It probably sounds as though this is a deeply disturbing film that really isn't worth watching. It isn't all sex and violence though - in fact, there are long periods where there is relatively little going on.
Parts of the film are truly beautiful. The opening scenes, although showing a child's death, are filmed partially in slow motion in the snow and are mesmerizing. Other scenes, later in the film, in the forest, are also stunning, albeit slightly creepy, many involving tree branches. Von Trier has a way of panning across a scene, then zooming in on a specific object, and it comes across wonderfully. Much of the first three quarters of the film, apart from the death of the child, is very slow - there is a real feeling that something dreadful is going to happen, but there are few ideas of exactly what that is, giving the viewer the opportunity to enjoy the visuals. This could be a major disadvantage for some though - if you're overly impatient to get to the gory bits, then there is quite a long wait.
The one thing I really didn't like about the film was the mystical element, which I found hard to understand and a little bit pretentious. The woman had been writing a thesis that is something to do with the place of women in the 16th century, yet had somehow managed to turn things around so that she thought that the women deserved to be treated badly. Witchcraft and the stars came into it somewhere along the lines, along with 'the three beggars' - a deer, a fox and a crow. I really didn't completely follow what was going on here and I'm not sure I was really supposed to - I suspect that von Trier just wanted to confuse his audience. If so, he achieved his goal. I was left feeling that he had tried to be a bit too clever, therefore annoying me, and I think a great deal of people who aren't put off by the violence, could be put off by this element of the film.
The background music to the film is amazing apt and very creepy. The film is divided into chapters, one for each stage of the story, and the chapter name is written what looks like a blackboard with lots of chalk scrawls. I mention this because at times the music sounds a bit like a piece of chalk being scraped across a blackboard. At least some of it is Handel (Lascia ch'io pianga' from the opera 'Rinaldo') but I'm not sure whether it all is - I suspect it is largely the music at the beginning and the end, which is a lot more mellifluous that the rest of it.
The film has not yet been released on DVD, so I am unable to comment on any extras that may come with it.
I find myself hard pushed to say whether I enjoyed this film or not. However, there is no doubt that it is incredibly powerful, beautifully filmed and with stunning performances from Defoe and Gainsbourg. If you are even remotely squeamish, you should probably stay well clear of the film. Then again, if you don't mind well-made horror, it really is worth a watch - just be prepared to be more disturbed than usual. Four stars out of five.
The DVD is available on play.com for pre-order for £12.99.
Running time: 109 minutes