Melancholia Goes from Grim to Grimmer
- Friday, November 18, 2011
But if religion takes a beating in Melancholia, so does science, which is mocked. Claire’s husband, John, watches Melancholia through his telescope, projecting confidence that everyone will be safe from the threat Melancholia represents. “He studies things. He always has,” Claire says at one point, trying to convince herself and her family that they’ll be safe. But she wonders aloud, “What if your scientists have miscalculated?”
They have, as the film’s opening moments, which show the collision of Earth and Melancholia, have already revealed. So we watch the unfolding story with a sense of dread at the inevitability of what will come. When it does, the moment is overwhelming in its power. Prepare to leave the theater shaken.
Although Melancholia mostly steers clear of religion, its sudden cataclysm has echoes of a day of wrath (Romans 2:5) and destruction, minus any hope for what follows that event. Melancholia is a film of despair and hopelessness, destruction and meaninglessness. That said, it is, in many ways—performances, cinematography and use of music—excellent. Those who come to it with a firm grounding in Christian faith will see much in Melancholia that they see in everyday life—people who need a hope that is grounded in something unchanging.
But, as in real life, some people are hard to reach with good news. Melancholia’s best asset is that it reminds us of how difficult it can be to overcome the weariness of people who have concluded that faith is a fantasy, and that life is temporal rather than eternal.
In the end, death comes for all of us, at a time not of our own choosing. Melancholia is best viewed as a reminder that we need to be prepared for that eventuality.
- Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; several uses of the “f”-word; “dam-it”; “s-it”; “da-n.”
- Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Some drinking, including at a wedding reception and during the final moments of Earth’s existence.
- Sex/Nudity: Justine stands at a bathtub naked, and most of her backside and breasts are visible; Justine lies on the ground naked, with breasts and pubic hair visible; cleavage; Justine’s mother refers to Justine’s first time having sex; Justine and her husband kiss, and she puts his hand between her legs; Justine has sex with a man on a golf course.
- Violence/Crime: Justine bumps her husband accidentally with a car; Justine beats her horse; a suicide.
- Marriage: Justine and Michael marry, but Justine soon has sex with another man; her parents are distant from each other, and her mother says she doesn’t believe in marriage.
Religion/Morals: Justine says Earth is evil and that we don’t need to grieve for it; Justine says we’re all alone, explaining that “life is on Earth, and not for long.”
Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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