Film Director Lars von Trier has now revealed a bit of the plot of his new
film “Melancholia” that is due to open in cinemas in 2011.
So far von Trier has been so tight-lipped that it was a genuine scandal this
summer when the reclusive director invited the world press to the shooting
in the Swedish town of Trollhättan and told them only that the film is about
two sisters and a planet heading for earth.
The latter event happens at the very beginning of the film, according to Lars
von Trier in a new book entitled “Geniet” (The Genius ) and authored by
Politiken Journalist Nils Thorsen.
“In ‘Melancholia’ I start with the end. Because what is interesting is not
what happens but how it happens! So we begin by seeing the world being
crushed, then we can tell the story afterwards,” he says.
“In this way you don’t have to sit and form theories about what will happen,
but can delve down into some other levels and become interested in the
pictures and the universe – that’s what I imagine.”
The film is about two sisters. One of them is melancholic, the other
quite normal. The two sisters are played by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte
The two sisters react completely differently when the end of the earth
approaches. The melancholy sister is calm as a rock because, in her darkened
mind, she has always felt that things go as expected – to hell!
“And there are beautiful pictures as she is just standing there looking at the
planet that comes closer and closer and accepts it. The other woman, on the
other hand, becomes increasingly panicky,” von Trier says.
“It could be beautiful if ‘Melancholia’ could become this big submission. That
is why it’s so awesome that the planet devours the earth. It’s like no more
lying on the hilltop and looking at the larks,” he says, adding “I think the
larks will go too.”
Bomb shelter against anxiety
According to von Trier, the first part of “Melancholia” is about the
melancholic sister’s wedding. After the wedding she pushes everything away –
husband and boss – and increasingly slows her pace.
Von Trier does not want to disclose more details from the plot of the film,
but it appears from the book that he includes some of his own childhood,
when he feared becoming the victim of everything from nuclear war to
In “Melancholia”, for instance, the melancholic sister hears her six-year old
nephew cry because he has been told that there is nowhere to hide from the
foreign planet. When she discovers her nephew’s fear, she positions herself
in between the disaster and the boy and tells him about a special cave where
he can be safe.
According to the book, this construction is similar to von Trier’s childhood,
when he tried to calm his anxiety by establishing a bomb shelter under the
table or having magical systems on the window sill.
And yes, Lars von Trier suffers from anxiety. He isn’t just pretending.
He has been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and in the book he
is asked whether he would stop making films if that would remove his anxiety.
“I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment,” he says.