The first half of Lar von Trier’s Antichrist is a bewitching brew of haunting imagery and sobering storytelling, examining the presence of guilt and depression in the wake of a family tragedy. And then a talking fox shows up and von Trier goes into controversy mode, erasing the film’s morbid beauty with unnecessary blood-letting and genital mutilation. Over the years I’ve lessened my stance against the film, but it remains an example of a director taking his audience hostage for unknown reasons. Despite von Trier’s contemptuous plot choices , Antichrist is still a striking film, as demonstrated in this month’s shot where our protagonists, simply named He and She, make raucous love atop the base of a sinister tree as pale limbs seep out from its roots. Without context, the image is surreal and off-putting, reminding us of a similar moment in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, where unmanned arms pierce through a wall and stake their claim at an emotionally damaged woman. Within the confines of the film, the indelible image gains more thematic weight, representing the characters submitting to their violent impulses. He gives in to her carnal demands; She fulfills her self prescribed venomous duties. Intimacy is warped by the Devil’s playground, turning a moment of love into an oppressive, violent act. Sex never seemed more insufferable.
Cinematographer: Anthony Dod Mantle
Director: Lars von Trier