The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia (2011) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia (2011)

"Melancholia" isn’t just the deepest and most compassionate movie Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier has made but the most haunting in recent years by anyone.

Here’s a film to swallow up existence let alone block out the sun. By all accounts the Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier is an unpleasant man, so desperate for attention as to get it in all the wrong ways; he has made movies repellent (Antichrist), abusive (Dancing in the Dark), and empty (Zentropa). This, then, must be the sort of exception that proves rules: one of the new century’s early masterpieces, in which the snap of the director’s clipboard brings on a cosmic car-wreck and unleashes emotional truths that are overwhelming before they’re meaningless. And for all his bad-boy posturing, what does it say about Trier (the “von” is an affectation) that his talent for eliciting consistently remarkable performances from actresses—Emily Watson and Björk in the past, Charlotte Gainsbourg and most notably Kirsten Dunst here—may be unsurpassed by any other contemporary filmmaker?    

Surveying the collapse of sanity, the implosion of a marriage before it begins, and the end of the world when the cyanide capsules run out, with photography by Chilean-born Manuel Alberto Claro that evokes next year at Marienbad, Melancholia isn’t just the deepest and most compassionate movie Trier has made—transforming his instinctive cruelty and no-exit sensibility into earthbound pity and insight—but the most haunting in recent years by anyone. From the opening images, as rogue planets come crashing down, it takes you to some corner of the human spirit where neither horror nor beauty concedes anything to the other.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #58: La Dolce Vita
The Essential Movie Library #57: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Essential Movie Library #56: Contempt
The Essential Movie Library #55: Sunset Boulevard
The Essential Movie Library #54: Metropolis
The Essential Movie Library #53: In A Lonely Place
The Essential Movie Library #52: Talk to Her

The Essential Movie LIbrary #51: To Be or Not To Be
The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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