Melancholia is one of the best, if not the best, apocalyptic dramas of all-time.
Melancholia, as some would say, is just that weird movie with Kirsten Dunst. It's actually a whole lot more than that. Melancholia is an apocalyptic drama that doesn't just focus on the "end of the world" element, but instead focuses on the doomed characters in their last days of life. One thing that took my breath away from Melancholia most is the fact that it grasps your emotions strongly and almost never lets you go; even hours after seeing the film you'll have that strange feeling in the pit of your stomach. It sounds uncomfortable, but instead is quite warm and filled with life. Ironic? Yes. Lars von Trier crafted that aspect tremendously.
The fact that the film is split into two parts make a lot of sense. It works even better because Part I lasts exactly one hour and so doesn't Part Two. It's almost like watching a short flick then its sequel in the same time-frame, which is pretty intriguing. Part one of the film is beautiful. It's beautiful, energetic, and has a lot of great dialogue. The shots from von Trier are filled with life and the setting of the wedding is almost like a painting. Part one might still be depressing in context, but a lot lighter than the dooming second act. That's for sure.
After spending an entire hour at one of the character's wedding, the film goes dark and opens up to the second act. Part two of the film takes place shortly after at the same setting. Never once is the film shot anywhere other than the mansion's property. With the wedding over and less characters in the second part, the mansion does feel a lot different and it's almost as if the film does move around a lot more than it does. The second act of Melancholia is dark, depressing, and something you'd catch with a Shakespeare play. Lars von Trier announced there would be no happy endings, and he was right. Melancholia might not have been announced it, but it is certainly a tragedy.
The big reason why I liked the film being split into two parts is because of the way it was done. The film follows the last few days of two sisters, one who is at her wedding and the other who has planned it at her fine, luxurious home. Part one aims the focus at Justine, a seemingly happy woman marrying Michael. The two seem perfect, but Justine's somewhat lost and unhappy. The wedding sequence of the film is filled with dark, abstracted colors and the longer is goes by the darker it gets, especially with the character Justine. She starts off happy and then just changes throughout the film and that was one of the most interesting observations. Part two then aims the focus at Claire, the other sister married with one child. Claire's half of the film focuses more on the actual storyline Lars von Trier was trying to get by. Her half was more emotional, dark, and satisfying; therefore, a lot better. Both sisters seem different in each part of the film, so the character development is definitely one of the bigger highlights Melancholia holds.
The film has an extremely artsy look to it. The first seven minutes of the film are spectacular and shot beautifully by the director. It reminded me a lot of Alice in Wonderland for some reason; just the use of colors and darkness made the setting look very dark and similar. The film has no connections to Alice in Wonderland whatsoever and I'm almost one-hundred percent sure Lars didn't get his inspiration from that, but the fact that the film's dark opening is so memorizing, it was just what I thought of throughout that sequence.
The film sends off a strange vibe when finishing it. Do we, as humans, deserve life? The fact that both sisters strong change in character from part one to part two crafted this question into my mind. One sister is scared out of her mind to die, while the other is ready to die because she feels God is pretty much disgusted by the way humans have decided to live their lives. The dialogue in one scene between the sisters is incredible and pretty much hits off this question of whether we deserve life or not, and from there I knew Melancholia was a work of art and wasn't just an overly-long story wasted with a wedding-sequence. While watching the movie you may feel that the wedding is pointless and only filling in space, but in fact, it's the characters changes from that point on to their doom is the real beauty the movie crafts.
Melancholia is an emotional drama that'll have you thinking for hours afterward. The performances are brilliant by both sisters, played by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and especially Oscar-worthy. Kirsten Dunst is not a favorite of mine, but the performance she gives is strong and depressing and definitely left a lot with my observations. Gainsbourg is just incredible, as usual, and delivers all her scenes wonderfully. Her performance is powerful and emotional and definitely worth the viewing just for her. Lars von Trier has created his masterpiece and leaves us off with one of the best, if not the best, apocalyptic dramas of all time.
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-Written by Corey Wood