mon 22/07/2024

DVD: Melancholia | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Melancholia

DVD: Melancholia

Von Trier’s take on the disaster movie has its faults but is ultimately haunting

The somewhat misleading DVD cover that makes 'Melancholia' look like it might be a Tim Burton movie

Although Lars von Trier’s latest boasts a few mainstream stars (amonst them, Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland) and the director himself has described the film as having not only having a Hollywood aesthetic but also - horror of horrors - a happy ending, everything is relative.

Von Trier’s idea of a happy ending gets previewed at the beginning of the film, so it doesn't give much away by saying it consists of our snooker ball-sized Earth getting pulverised by a football-sized planet called Melancholia. As for why the director might think of the destruction of all life in the known universe as a happy ending, suffice to say that if you suffer from serious depression, the end of the world might support your world view and also save you the trouble of ending it all yourself.

It all looks splendid enough, with most scenes bathed in a warm amber light appropriate to the sunset of mankind. And the spare use of some magisterial passages from Wagner changes the tone of certain scenes – adding a romantic wistfulness - more than any of the action on the screen ever does. But here lies the reason Melancholia isn’t quite the masterpiece it could have been. While a naturalistic pace and believable characters juxtaposed with an apocalyptic sci-fi scenario is clearly meant to involve the viewer in a less superficial way than your average disaster movie, it sags too much in the middle.

And yet if you resist the tempo set by von Trier you will grow impatient; if you surrender to it you will benefit. When the film finally shifts up a gear or two in the last 20 minutes, I felt intensely anxious in a way I’ve not done since seeing Hitchcock’s The Birds. DVD extras include a making-of documentary and informative interviews with von Trier, Dunst and Gainsbourg.

Watch the trailer for Melancholia

It all looks splendid enough, with most scenes bathed in a warm amber light appropriate to the sunset of mankind


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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