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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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What We’re Watching

Hatchet reporter Roxanne Goldberg shares her latest movie experience.

Melancholia” (2011)

Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

In the beautifully strange science fiction film, “Melancholia,” director Lars von Trier explores the poetic finality of time and inevitably of life.

When life on Earth is threatened by the approach of a previously hidden planet, Melancholia, sisters Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) grapple with their own melancholia, both privately and within their various relationships.

Harkening back to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Melancholia” is economic in script but rich in aesthetic dimensions.

The bizarre yet absolutely spectacular nature of “Melancholia” is evident from the very beginning when a series of slow motion scenes foreshadowing the most poignant moments in the film are played against an awe-inspiring overture of “Tristan and Isolde.”

Split into two chapters, the first half of the film focuses on Justine, who is celebrating her recent marriage to Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). The end of the world becomes a source of comfort for the young advertising genius, who finds no value in the rituals and social conventions that fill up what she finds to be an otherwise empty existence.

Justine’s character is a symbol of the depths of depression and the influential power of mind over body. Throughout the film, her story becomes an exploration of life’s most unanswered questions.

Dunst gives a tremendous performance that leaves the viewer asking questions and searching for answers.

To juxtapose Justine is her sister Claire, the namesake of the final chapter. Claire is more or less the average person. She fears death and values human relationships above all else. In the last days of all existence, Claire steadily spirals into a state of hysteria in very much the same way the planet Melancholia collides into Earth.

Set against the backdrop of stunning cinematography and amplified by the poignant sounds of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, “Melancholia” is a breathtaking film that challenges the viewer to take a look into feelings regarding death, and the joys and heartbreaks of life.

Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama
Director: Lars von Trier
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Alexandar Skarsgard, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Release Date: Nov. 11

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