“Melancholia” – Bad Planet Rising
That is the basic message of “Melancholia,” filmmaker Lars von Trier’s end-of-the-world opus, which shows the way the wealthy one-percent will likely face the apocalypse.
The scene is an opulent wedding on an elegant estate, featuring an 18-hole golf course. The bride is Justine (Kirsten Dunst), who keeps falling into a state of depression, much to the dismay of her benefactor brother-in-law, John (Kiefer Sutherland), who’s spared no expense in financing the affair.
The most depressing aspect of Justine’s depression is a planet named Melancholia, which justifies her state of mind, in that it’s headed on a path of destruction, straight toward us, as in, “Earth.”
This is despite John’s insistence that Melancholia will pass us. “You have to trust the scientists,” he says, as he enthusiastically urges his young son, Leo (Cameron Spurr), to view the approaching planet through a telescope.
As the unavoidable end draws near, Justine’s cynicism becomes strength. The others, including John and his wife, her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), fall into despair.
What’s amazing is von Trier’s beautiful depiction of doom: the planets in their dance of death to Wagnerian strains, Justine bathing nude in the ethereal blue-white light of Melancholia, pigeons dropping in a lifeless cascade from the sky, the magnificence of the reception in a joyless marriage. Even the pointless bickering between the family and guests has a sad serenity.
“Melancholia” is von Trier’s ultimate celebration of negativity. See it and feel better that things aren’t that bad.