Friday, May 4, 2012

Horror Mystery: Antichrist (2009) - Chaos Reigns

I think there are two types of people in the world; those who love Lars Von Trier and those who don't. I love him (FYI - I'm also one of those people that loves Showgirls) and Antichrist may be his most intriguing film. It's certainly his most ambiguous.

Antichrist follows the story of She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and He (Willem Dafoe) a couple who, after the death of their toddler son, go to their cabin in the woods Eden (natch) where the man experiences increasingly bizarre visions and she exhibits increasingly violent sexual behavior. He finds She's work that she did for her PhD which is about witchcraft and the writing gets more obsessive and insane. She maims He brutally by smashing his testicles and drilling a hole through his leg and bolting a stone through it.

Later She begs forgives and helps him outside since she cannot find the wrench. He asks if She will kill him. She says "not yet. When the Three Beggars arrive, someone must die." The Three Beggars being a Crow, a Deer and a Fox. The film climaxes when it is suggested She could have saved their son but was more concerned with her own sexual pleasure. Then in the film's most talked about scene she severs her clitoris while masturbating. He finds the wrench after freeing the crow. She stabs him with a pair of scissors and He strangles her. He burns She's body in a funeral pyre outside of the cabin. He then leaves the cabin, walking through the forest as the Three Beggars watch. He then sees hundreds of women walking towards him, their faces blurred.

So, what the fuck does all that mean?

God Hates Women. Well ish, in a historical sense anyway. According to the Christian bible, women are responsible for original sin and getting mankind cast out of Eden forever. In the film She cannot cross the bridge into Eden, She must be carried. If we consider the witch hunts of the 16th Century the witches were actually pagans (except for the Blair Witch) with a strong connection to nature and the cycle of the Earth. One theory is that She is afraid of nature because it will restore her to her paganistic ways which would result in her being cast out from society. Once She realizes that nature is not "Satan's Church" she happily emerges herself in water.

When He criticizes her for being happy in Eden it triggers an anxiety that beings the violent series of events. The women approaching him at the end are those who died at the hand of the Church.

The Exorcist. Women are agents of the Devil. Eve was the first tempted and since then Satan has been able to prove his existence through them. In this reading, the Three Beggars would be agents of God warning, protecting and guiding He through the events. This would also speak to the discovery that She had been putting on her son's shoes on the wrong feet, perverting and going against nature which is emblematic of Satanism... so I'm told...

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrr She's just cray-cray. Unable to face herself after letting her child die She suffers a complete psychotic break taking He along for the ride.

There were claims of sexism and misogyny upon Antichrist's release but the title alone suggests the Catholic reading of the film. I don't think Von Trier is sexist, I think history might be.

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