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AntiChrist sticks a finger up your bum...

AntiChrist sticks a finger up your bum…

by Nathan Zeno / 27.07.2009

Watching Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist is similar to talking to someone about their grief and suddenly they forcefully, deeply shove their finger up your ass without lubrication. It’s surprising, pleasurable and very painful. I know that I watched it, but I haven’t put it in a box yet, and don’t think anyone can.

On the surface it seems to be a film about a couple grieving over the death of their son, while they were having sex and attempting to deal with the guilt associated. But it’s so much more and maybe not even that. It calls into question the legitimacy of therapy, discusses nature and chaos, the horror of self, shadows and animal warrens and takes in some truly beautiful slow motion photography, graphic sexual content and violence along the way.

Antichrist is so dense, so layered so ultimately packed with meaning, there would be no point to try explain, analyze or unpack it. This, it feels to me, is the point of one of its layers, for psychotherapy is always an attempt to find reason and human nature, nature itself is entirely unreasonable. The film destroys your ability to think what you are seeing through. It is unflinching on so many levels that to be shocked at all is to not perceive what you are experiencing, for Antichrist is an emotional and intellectual experience that I have not had in cinema for many years.

Standing outside the cinema afterwards, I felt a strange joy in the confusion apparent on so many faces. Lars Von Trier is either a genius or a madman, I don’t think it matters which. Chaos Reigns .

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  1. djf says:

    One of the most salient remarks that I have read on Lars von Trier asserts that all his films deal with the inevitability of human complicity – that to live means to participate, means to uphold circumstances which are unjust and cruel out of necessity and not out of choice. This juxtaposed with human suffering has provided curiously engaging fare from The Element Of Crime through to Manderlay.

    I have yet to see Antichrist – could the same be said of it?

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  2. Joerg says:

    Apparently Lars von Trier made this film in a midst of a depression, and doesn’t feel it’s a particularly good film. But since Cannes would take whatever film he’d make, he decided to make it anyway.

    Looking forward to seeing it, though I thought Dogville was incredibly boring.

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  3. bubba hotep says:

    ‘there would be no point to try to explain, analyze or unpack it’…you whisper this to the person in your life before lights out – you don’t write a review on the basis of your own befuddlement. that’s just pointless. pauline kael must be spinning in her grave. ‘human nature’ isn’t unreasonable or anything at all like nature. if that were true 300 years of natural rights philosophy (the stuff that led up to and informed the liberating blast of the French Revolution) would have never happened and we’d still be worshipping priests and bowing to kings…

    This film does look awesome tho. Charlotte G hacking away at Willem Defoe…wow.

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  4. djf says:

    Bubba, allow me to respond on Nathan’s behalf? This was not a “review” in the archetypal sense, rather a more raw and immediate account of his gut response to the film, thereby bringing home an honest and unfiltered emotional account of its effect – far more effective than an overwrought intellectual dissection….

    ….also a great vehicle to discuss anal probing.

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  5. Nathan Zeno says:

    Joerg – google Lars thoughts on the film before you post an “apparently” – Von Trier has said it’s the most important film he has made, that it saved his life and he will defend it on any level.

    Bubba – A: you go watch it and try unpack it and Lars will laugh at you.
    B: Pauline Kael, have you even read any of her criticism? I recommend you find a copy of “I Lost It At The Movies”.
    C: “Human nature isn’t unreasonable” – Did you really mean to say that?

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  6. bubba hotep says:

    Hey man presuming how ‘Lars’ is gonna react is a mistake. Sure I’ve read her stuff. Pauline would rather have endured a Michael Bay marathon than hand in a piece that reflects little more than her own overwhelmed incapacity to order her thoughts. I recommend you find a copy of Stanley Cavell’s ‘The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film’ or Gilberto Perez’s ‘The Material Ghost – Films & Their Medium’. Spend some time schooling yourself on writers who clear their heads before going public. I didn’t ‘say’ it Nathan I ‘wrote’ it – remember Derrida and his injunction against ‘phono-centricism’? But you got me. I should have written ‘human nature isn’t (entirely) unreasonable’. A profoundly cynical and defeatist assertion on your part…

    See you at the movies.

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  7. Tara says:

    Bubba, confusing as it is, many people still do worship priests and bow to kings..they just call “kings” other things these days, ie: talk show hosts, pop-stars, politicians. you fill in the rest.

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  8. Nathan Zeno says:

    Bubba, I don’t mean to say that unreasonable equates with evil but merely that reason and nature are two different things. This film is entirely about that. Sure, now three days later I could break it down, offer a proper critique, but really, that would be doing the film a disservice. Antichrist is art because of its ability to overwhelm reasonable thought. I wouldn’t want to take that experience away from anyone by picking it apart. Nor would the filmmaker, which is probably why he made the film. I, personally, reject any form of writing about film that steals from the medium the mystery that is caused by the frisson of all it’s myriad juxtapositions.

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  9. The Good Doctor says:

    The culturati…indeed.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    …and so clever too!

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