Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Antichrist (DVD Review)

Courtesy of eOne Films

Writer/Dir: Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville)
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbouroug
Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland, 2009

First off, I have to say that after seeing Dancer in the Dark I didn't think I would see another Lars von Trier film. Not that it wasn't a good film, but I was so mad after seeing it that I didn't want to go through something like that again. But the anticipation built from Cannes (where Charlotte Gainsbouroug won Best Actress), to all the buzz at TIFF, including stories of walkouts and other various reactions, my curiosity got the best of me.

The film starts of beautiful and wonderous. Visually spectacular and haunting, I was amazed at the beauty but then just as quickly it turns dark where it sits, stirs and ruptures our thoughts and emotions. Centred on working through a process, and what approach to take gives us intellectual stimulation on what we are presented with but the film creates a purposefully isolation which makes it frustrating as it confines the viewer to the limited belief systems created. It creates it's own boundaries, which is brilliant but also infuriating.

The film kept my interest to a point. When it was discussing ideas and the processes it was interesting, questioning, even if it was done in a light with a power imbalance and blurring the lines of relationships. But, it got to point where it went from theory to making a statement and at that point it lost me, I didn't believe the statement within the context of the film nor in reality and from a women's perspective I think it's an awful idea to have floating out there.

What does keep you reeled in is the fantastic acting by both Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbouroug who the film focuses on exclusively. It was great to see Willem Dafoe in a couple - we don't usually see that from him and he did a fantastic job. The relationship between the two was real, it truly felt like we were seeing a long standing couple deal with a hard situation, with all the good, bad and ugly that can come with it.

Warnings: Explicit images, violence, extremely disturbing images

DVD Extras:

  • Feature Commentary with director Lars von Trier and journalist Murray Smith: Given the controversial response to the film, I'm a little surprized to see that this commentary is a very gently guided one focusing on more on general film influences and Lars von Trier's body of work over the themes, inspiration and reactions. Certainly for very much geared to fans of Lars von Trier's work and it is interesting, however I was hoping it would be a little more enlightening on why over how.
  • The Antichrist Test (6 minutes) - The film in process from drawings to locations, concept to creation as they test out different aspects of the film. Includes behind the scenes and resulting test footage, plus interviews with director Lars von Trier, VFX Supervisor Peter Hjorth (in Danish with English subtitles)
  • Antichrist - Chaos Reigns at the Cannes Film Festival 2009 (7 minutes) behind the scenes style footage of director Lars von Trier and actors Willem Dafoe & Charlotte Gainsbourg on the day of the premiere including red carpet footage, interviews, meeting festival representatives, the press, press conference & fans along with audience reception of the screening.
  • Confessions About Anxiety (5 minutes) director Lars von Trier discusses the experience and effect of anxiety, therapy and the journeys and processes that inspiration the film. Also includes interviews with VFX Supervisor Peter Hjorth, director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle and film clips.
  • Eden - Production Design (5 minutes) film clips, on location footage and interviews with production designer Karl "Kalli" Juliusson, director Lars von Trier and producer Meta Louise Foldager about location scouting, challenges, creation the cabin and surrounding area along with discussing stylistic choices.
  • The Sound and Music of Antichrist (13 minutes) interview with sound designer Kristian Eidnes Andersen on working on the project, challenges, creating the music, the natural oriented sound design and some of the unconventional gathering processes and alterations that went into creating the sound and music for the film. Also includes interviews with Barokksolistern director Bjarte Eike, mezzo soprano Tuva Semmingsen and excepts during the process of recording the music (in Danish with English subtitles).
  • The Three Beggars - The Animals of Antichrist (8 minutes) Behind the scenes footage and interview with animal handler Ota Bares on the working with the ravens, deer and fox in the film including the process of working with and training the animals, as well as the challenges. Also includes interviews with VFX Supervisor Peter Hjorth, director Lars von Trier and response from actor Willem Dafoe on working with the animals. I really liked this feature, the animals are awesome.
  • The Make-Up Effects and Props of Antichrist (8 minutes) behind the scenes footage, film clips and interviews with make-up effecs and special props Morten Jacobsen & Thomas Foldbeg on the process of working with Lars von Trier as well as up close detail on the practical effects. Fair warning that this is pretty graphic which makes complete sense considering the contest of the film but seeing some of the effects from conception to realization got me me a little squirmy.
  • The Evil of Woman (7 minutes) film clips, interviews with director Lars von Trier, researcher Heidi Laura and producer Meta Louise Foldager on the research done on into looking into the proof of the evil nature of women. Oddly most of the quotes and references drawn are from men, but it does shed some light into the She character's mind and the inspiration of some of the decisions.
  • The Visual Style of Antichrist (15 minutes) film clips and interview with director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle on the visual style of the film, how certain styles were technically achieved and the equipment used. Also includes interviews with director Lars von Trier, producer Meta Louise Foldager and VFX Supervisor Peter Hjorth on the process of putting it all together and test footage.
  • Interviews from Cannes Film Festival 2009 with actors Charlotte Gainsbourg (6 minutes) a beautifully open interview on the process of filmmaking including what felt dangerous, if watching it was embarrassing and trust while working with director Lars von Trier and Willem Dafoe (8 minutes) on how he got involved with the project, working with director Lars von Trier and a very insightful response back to peoples strong reactions to the film. Really great interviews.
Antichrist is available on DVD as of November 9, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com (The Criterion Collection version)

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it more than expected
I have watched it again
I'd recommend it to fans of dark films and harsh films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2009 - 2010
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - November 11, 2009

Charlotte Gainsbourg as ‘She’ in ANTICHRIST directed by Lars von Trier
Photo credit Christian Geisnaes. An IFC Films release. Courtesy of eOne Films

Courtesy of eOne Films

Charlotte Gainsbourg as ‘She’ in ANTICHRIST directed by Lars von Trier
Photo credit Christian Geisnaes. An IFC Films release. Courtesy of eOne Films

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