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Von Trier reveals end of new film

Danish film director lets the earth go under before the plot begins.

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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.”

Beautiful acceptance
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 Gainsbourg.

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 appendicitis.

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.

OCD
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.

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