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Monday, August 26, 2013

September Film Club

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it out for the documentaries this summer, we will now be returning to the original Film Club schedule of every third Thursday of the month at 6:15pm (unless otherwise specified).  For the month of September we will be watching the beautiful, moving, elegiac film by Lars Von Trier, Melancholia.

Melancholia is an apocalyptic drama written and directed by Lars Von Trier, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd, and Kiefer Sutherland.  The narrative revolves around two sisters during and shortly after one's wedding, while Earth is about to collide with an approaching rogue planet.  The film prominently features music from the prelude to Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde.  The film begins with an introductory sequence involving the main characters and images from space and introducing many of the film's leitmotifs.  The film continues in two parts.  Part One:  "Justine" and Part Two: "Claire".  The first scene explores the events at the wedding reception, and the second part follows the sisters' lives after the reception.  Most of the film takes place at the home of Claire (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) and John (Kiefer Sutherland), Justine's (Kirsten Dunst) sister and brother-in-law.  The events in the second part lead up to the resolution of what is happening with the rogue planet, nicknamed "Melancholia".

This is probably the most commercial, polished film the director (Lars Von Trier) has every released.  He and another filmmaker were the pioneers of the Dogme 95 Manifesto (click link for more info) that rejected the polished look of modern films, favoring the more realistic, gritty look they limited themselves to.  While the films of the Dogme directors are very fine films that explored a more "bare-bones" style of film making, this film (Melancholia) is one of Von Trier's greatest triumphs.

The film has received mostly positive reviews; it maintains a 77% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus: "Melancholia's dramatic tricks are more obvious than they should be, but this is otherwise a showcase for Dunst's acting and for Lars Von Trier's profound, visceral vision of depression and destruction."

Roger Ebert awarded the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, saying of the film, "If I were choosing a director to make a film about the end of the world, Von Trier the gloomy Dane might be my first choice.  The only other name that comes to mind is Werner Herzog's.  Both understand that at such a time silly little romantic subplots take on a vast irrelevance.  In the cast of Von Trier's characters, impending doom seems to have created a mental state of dazed detachment.  They continue to act as if their personal concerns have the slightest relevance.  Von Trier has never made a more realistic domestic drama, depicting a family that is dysfunctional not in crazy ways but in ways showing a defiant streak of intelligent individualism."

We will be watching Melancholia on Thursday, September 19th at 6:15pm.  Hope to see you there!

Here's the trailer:


  1. Great film. This should throw the group into a loop. Barb McKenna

  2. I agree, I'm interested to see what people think.