FILM | Chaos reigns

Monday, 23 May 2011

Cautionary note: long post. What can I say? I love this film.

One of the wierdest films I've ever seen, but one of my most favourite: Antichrist, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe. It is very sexually violent, so probably not for the faint hearted (four people passed out in its showing at the Cannes Festival) but this is not due to extended torture scenes, like in movies such as 'I Spit On Your Grave' (a film I picked off the shelf in Blockbuster without checking it, thinking it would be a standard horror, but was basically a rape movie. Not cool.) Those movies rely simply on shock value, and a lot of people's propensity to secretly like odd and disturbing things, without wanting to admit to it or concentrate too hard ('Saw', I'm looking at you). Antichrist, on the other hand, is about far more than the odd bit of violence.

Produced by Meta Louise Foldager, and written and directed by Lars Von Trier, it had a limited run at cinemas in the UK mainly due to oversensitivity and hype about the film's content and subject. I managed to get to one of the screenings in Brighton, before it pretty much disappeared from public viewing. Director of photography was Anthony Dod Mantle, who has worked on other awesome films such as '28 Days Later', 'Slumdog Millionaire' (where he won an Acadamy Award for Best Cinematography), the recently acclaimed '127 Hours' and 'The Eagle', a 2011 adaptation of a Roman historical adventure novel.

The film was nominated for and won a massive amount of awards, most notably Best Actress at Cannes, where the film was also nominated for a Palm D'Or, and a win in the Best Cinematographer category and  nominations for Best Actress and Director at the European Film Awards. A landslide victory at the Robert Awards saw Antichrist winning Best Cinematography, Film, Director, Screenplay, Editor, Sound and Special Effects individually, and nominated for Best Actor, Actress, Make-up, Costume Design and Production Design. The rest of the wins and nominations (there are more!) are on the Antichrist Wiki.

Unusually for Von Trier, the film was shot in Germany, not his usual Denmark or Sweden (as he suffers from an intense phobia of air travel, he rarely shoots any films outside these countries, even when they are set in other places). The cinematography and set were the most breathtaking I think I've seen; incredible forests and swathes of mist for Gainsbourg to waft in and out of in her mad periods, and amazing CGI for certain elements of post production. I also thought Gainsbourg was exeptional - Defoe was great too, though I can't get over Spiderman and consequently he scares me a bit.

The whole thing, though disturbing in content - sexual violence, psychological breakdown, death, mutilation, misogyny, gynocide - is stunningly beautiful, so much so that until the more frightening moments returned, I completely forgot about them and could only concentrate on how amazing the entire screen was looking - you can see this from the photographs above. Every shot would be a perfect painting. If you like unmistakeably talented cinematography and beautiful scenery, with great lead actors, a wierd but incredibly interesting concept, and you don't mind the occasional graphic depiction of sex or pain (actually, even if you do mind), then I would absolutely reccommend this film. So long as you don't get bogged down thinking 'horror movie', which it isn't, and keep an open mind, I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did. And you'll then understand the title of this post, too!

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