Antichrist DVD Review

Don’t Believe the Hype

I think Antichrist is a ruddy good film. There, I said it. This is not an easy statement to make about a film that has been called pornographic and misogynistic and even a downright abomination. Nor does the director, Lars Von Trier really provoke an audience into liking his work.  Poor Lars hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the media over the years, proclaiming he is the greatest director of all time, throwing awards in the bin and now, in Antichrist, having Charlotte Gainsbourg commit genital self-mutilation for our viewing pleasure.  For many critics, Antichrist is Von Trier yet again creating controversy for the sake of controversy and perhaps feeling the joke may be on them, many reviewers have shied away from appraising the more positive aspects of the film. This is a shame because, somewhere within the explicit sex, the violence and the talking fox there is a lot to like. Stay with me on this one.

If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

The plot is of course slightly barmy – What do you do when your wife is cracking up over the death of your son? Why, sack her therapist and take her on holiday to a creepy cabin in the woods of course. However, the film is as little dependent on plot as a painting is on its frame, and much like a painting, one is required to look deeper.  Von Trier has explored some of his own fears about gender by examining certain misogynist attitudes regarding the darker natures of men and women, producing a horror that appeals to some of our most primal fears about sex. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg give utterly mesmerizing central performances, eliciting sympathy and disgust simultaneously. They provoke as much terror through their multifaceted character portrayals as the acts of violence themselves. 

Clever Lars

So why the violence then? Well, would you even be reading this view about an art-house film if it wasn’t for the controversy it had created? Perhaps that is Von Trier’s real joke: love it or hate it, Von Trier has introduced the wider world to what is essentially an art-house film. Whether it is essential to the story perhaps matters not. You are aware of it, which is an achievement not to wave a pair of scissors at.

Special Features

Feature Commentary with Director Lars von Trier and Professor Murray Smith
Interviews with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe
Featurettes: The Evil of Woman, The Visual Style of Antichrist, The Make-Up Effects and Props of Antichrist
The Three Beggars
Confessions about Anxiety
The Sound and Music of Antichrist
The Antichrist Test
Antichrist – Chaos Reigns at the Cannes Film Festival

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