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Horror Movie released Oct. 23,2009; directed by Lars Von Trier

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A beautiful meditation on pain, dispaire, darkness, evil, and all that is to die.

  • Dec 5, 2010
Rating:
+5
**** out of ****

What is horror? Is it an exploitation of pop-out moments and blood? Is it a celebration of fear itself and whatever chooses to accompany it? Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" has shown me true fear in its most relentless state. That is why I mention such a thing. To call "Antichrist" a horror film is a bit of an understatement. Quite in fact, this not a horror film. It is frightening and savage, but never does it rely on jumps for either. "Antichrist" is, instead, purely thematic. It is an explicit film, quite in fact it is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen, but I do not FEEL disturbed. I feel quite riveted, to be honest. There is a difference between "disturbing" and "frightening". Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" manages to be both. The combination of the two seems to add up to a single word: powerful. Perhaps I cannot recommend "Antichrist", for most will find it the controversy to be most reasonable. I can't seem to dislike the film at all, for who am I to talk down to such a master as Von Trier. "Antichrist" may be his best film yet, and for obvious reasons. "Antichrist" is a film that only a daring, Dutch filmmaker can make. It is a film that can no longer be made by an American filmmaker, and for various reasons. It is too explicit to be something of Hollywood's standards, and too complex to come out of a typical American mind. Yet the film is spoken originally and entirely in English. Still, it is a film from Denmark. Von Trier is a Dutch filmmaker, after all. I see talent in the man, although some may find his work in "Antichrist" to be either pretentious and overheated or beautiful and majestic. I find it to be the second thing. Among other things, "Antichrist" is beautifully conceived. The plot is as complex as it is rich, and the cinematography is as masterful as it is maddening. The film has a psychological tone to it, although there are many other themes of lust and Satanism thrown in to make "Antichrist" far more than your typical cinematic run-in with the Devil. Von Trier's direction helps move the film along, and he has managed to make quite a beautiful film. It will divide audiences without a doubt (it already has), but "Antichrist" makes the word "shocking" seem to mimic "unforgettable" in so many ways. I would say that you shouldn't miss it, but that's only if you have a strong stomach. Or perhaps you have seen worse. If either of those things works for you, then I say go for it. "Antichrist" is a powerful, wonderful celebration of artistic filmmaking. It is one of the best films of 2009, and one of the most shocking films of all time. It truly is unforgettable, and deserves that title and more. Perhaps it shall be appreciated somewhere down the road.

A man and a woman, identified only as "He" and "She", are passionately making love while their child manages to climb up onto a desk and fall out the window nearby, killing him. "She" experiences the most grief, blaming herself for the incident. "He" is not particularly content either, although he aims to help his wife in her psychological struggles. He acts as her therapist and tries a method where she can conquer her fear, which happens to be that of the woods. "She" claims that within the woods rests everything that is evil, although "He" aims to help her in as many ways as he can. Therefore, the two make a trip up to their cabin in the woods of Eden. This is the woods which "She" finds to be most frightening. While "She" continues to fear the invisible horrors within the trees and within the grass of the forest, "He" begins to have horrific visions. He begins to see animals, for example. But these are not normal animals. There seems to be something demonic about each and every one of them; for instance, one is a deer with a dead deer sticking out of its anus, blood and all. Another animal "He" encounters is a fox which is literally eating itself. Such evil conceived in such animals adds up to something that could be called horrific, but it is not what we perceive as "filmic horror". However, "Antichrist" is about fear. And it's a powerful story about it, to say the least. I'll be completely honest: I loved the story that the film told. The ride itself was explicit and graphic, but the telling of the story was magnificent. Von Trier manages to capture all the power located in the emotion of fear, and he intelligently embeds it into his film. "Antichrist" is a consistent visual wonder and a showcase of true horror, although it was Von Trier's intent to make it appealing to only a select number of its viewers. Most people will walk out shocked, but disturbed to an end where they cannot say it is art. Others, like myself, will regard it as a masterpiece. Perhaps it is not pleasant, and perhaps it is not at all uplifting, but it is moving and emotionally resonant. That is a surprising quality in a movie centered around everything evil, and I feel that Von Trier has created a film of such artistic quality that it surpasses pretty much everything else that happens to exploit sexuality and violence in such an artistic matter. Von Trier remains one of the only men aside from Kubrick to do that as successfully as he does. He truly is a marvel, and a jem of the cinematic age.

Willem Dafoe gives one of his best performances yet as "He". Dafoe's character is believable and you do indeed feel for him at moments. He is subject to much pain in the film, although you can sympathize for the guy. Charlotte Gainsbourg also gives a very powerful and psychologically maddening performance as "She". Dafoe and Gainsbourg are literally the only actors who really show up. However, I am informed that the highly explicit sexuality scenes which this film is know for, were acted by porn stars. That is understandable, and convenient; for I too would not want to even act out such things on my own. However, the beauty of it is that Von Trier understands that sexuality is an art rather than a thing to mindlessly exploit. He keeps that in mind throughout, on his way to crafting one of the finest films possibly of all time.

"Antichrist" features one of the best openings in all of cinema history. The scene shows a couple making love while consistently shifting to a child who eventually falls out a window to his demise. This is all done in slow-motion, with black-and-white framework, beautiful cinematography, and accompanied by the melody Lascia Ch'io Pianga from a popular opera. It is beautiful because the correspondence to all these things is entirely flawless, and it ends with such emotion and tender beauty that I am led to praise it with un-ending compassion. As you may know, "Antichrist" is a beautifully shot film. The cinematography is flawless, and the slow-motion shots are some of the best ones. The film is accompanied with little music to create a horrific, suspenseful, and very scary atmosphere. But yet, I cannot call "Antichrist" a horror film. It is frightening in almost every way, but then again it does not have the excessive blood that most horror films bare. The beauty of it is that Von Trier's direction, which is most certainly flawless, is carried out with unending craft. I loved "Antichrist" because there truly is no other film like it. No other director has been this daring and this confident about their controversial project, much less does anyone have the guts to want to make it for real. Denmark is an area where less things are offensive, hence why "Antichrist" is how it is. However, that does not mean that the American audience should find it to be as revolting as they did. "Antichrist" is not revolting; it is beautiful. I loved it, I really did.

There are many who will deny "Antichrist" for being art. There are in fact people who can not get by its content. However, I find something extremely beautiful underneath the controversy of "Antichrist"; and that is a meaningful and artistic piece of true filmmaking. Von Trier has riveted me; and he has shocked many. The film has even been called the most shocking movie of the Cannes Film Festival. Perhaps it is. But then again, it's also one of the best films to premiere at such an event. Not many American critics or movie-goers will see the beauty in "Antichrist"; most may actually find it to be disgusting. However, I was not offended by it. I was not even "disturbed" by it. I thought it was instead powerful, moving, and effective on so many levels of true terror. I will not recommend it to you. That is a dangerous thing. But if you have one of the strongest stomachs you know, then it's worth a shot; because "Antichrist" is not worth skipping if you can manage sticking with it for long. It is a symbolic and interesting film, and most film-goers should be used to such a thing and be able to enjoy it. Roger Ebert was one of the film's few major admirers, and his review convinced me of how and understanding and wonderful critic he is. Ebert understands what is art and what is not; and he found solace in "Antichrist". And you know what: so did I. Not everyone will. But...hell, I loved the thing. It's unappreciated, and perhaps one day people will realize how great of a film it is. Perhaps I have started earlier than others. You know what...that's probably it.

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December 05, 2010
I really liked this movie and I have to buy the new dvd, it is pretty expensive though. Did you see the newsletter I sent out earlier? you were spotlighted....
December 05, 2010
Yep. I read it. Thanks for all the recognition. By the new release, I assume you mean the Criterion release, right? I own that.
December 05, 2010
yes. I saw this movie in theaters, it was impressive but the criterion release is selling for $ 34.99-39.99 around here. I try not to spend more than $ 20 for a dvd these days.
 
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More ANTICHRIST reviews
Quick Tip by . January 02, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I've seen a lot of filthy, x-rated material, so I wasn't terribly shocked with what I saw here, though I was impressed with what this movie accomplished. Von Trier managed to create a movie that's pornographic but also of artistic merit, and its inspiration from Andrei Tarkovski is rather noticeable (such as nature being a main theme, and main visual). Had to dock off a point because while the film was really solid, I felt the delivery of themes was a little too direct, and some of Charlotte Gainsbourg's …
review by . October 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
poster
   “It is a repulsive, perplexing piece of art” as described by the press notes of writer/director Lars Von Trier’s latest film “ANTICHRIST”. This would be the best way to describe this metaphysical journey as the film seems to have been made with the full intent to shock, sicken and dare the viewer to sit through the brutal acts of unreasonable violence and painstaking themes that taps into the depredation of the undone mind. This film is not for the squeamish …
review by . December 22, 2009
I have never heard of the work of Lars Von Trier and I have only ever heard mutterings, both positive and negative, of his skills as a director. I am afraid that I am going to lean towards the negatives and agree with the one claim of the director being pretentious. The movie is not a bad effort and actually provided quite a disturbing viewing experience whilst still maintaining my interest throughout. In the UK and, undoubtedly the rest of the world, this film has drawn massive controversy for …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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