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Film Review: Garden of 'Eden': A Critical Analysis of 'Antichrist'


The following is a review of Lars Von Trier's 'Antichrist', a film with an 18 rating and one that is acclaimed as highly disturbing and not for the feint of heart. View at your own discretion.

There has been a long-lasting trend of Disturbia in our world; a disassociated blood lust that quells our disturbing need for excitement. Films, games, books or television that mock our taboos and invite us to indulge in our repressed yearnings for violence. But what about those films that re-evaluate disturbance? That book that challenges you to check in with your own mental stability? The art installations that we can all relate to, but never want to admit to liking. These instances of the macabre genre that re-affirm our comfort of the taboo are the most important, the ones that need our attention the most; it's easy to titillate oneself with violence, sex and or gore, to open your mind to the dark nature of mental illnesses. That's a social hurdle we've yet to appropriately confront.

Lars Von Trier's darkest feature, Antichrist, explores these realms, exemplifying the horrors of the human mind when a wrench is thrown into the works. As with any artistic rendition of psychology, the subtext is highly subjective, which is partially what makes it so fun, and at the same time, terrifying. It sets out a structured design for “coping with grief”, but the relevance of its content can be applied to any mental illness, bad day or internal crisis. Let me pause here to point out that this is in no way an example of mental instabilities being by default dangerous or violent; if anything the relative aspects of this film show us that any human, stable or not, can succumb to dangerous behaviour. Taking place in a Garden of Eden, at the forefront of fear, lust, despair and love, it tells the tale of a tortured woman's descent into torturous tendencies.

Many things can be drawn from this; perhaps her husband is an embodiment of her rationality, and “Eden” a physical representation of her mind, perhaps they are metaphors for the turbulent and destructive qualities of nature. One mindset that it would seem is important to maintain is that they are human. They are not personified concepts of societal power or problems, they are real, breathing, bleeding humans. To think of them as anything otherwise is to dehumanise the issues this feature presents, it further disassociates the audience, further ignoring mental health problems that many of us face. Instead of attempting a critical analysis, it is my recommendation that, to truly enjoy what this film has to offer, one needs to open themselves up to it, as a person. With its grim cinematography and its affectations of biblical themes, it challenges us to associate with it on a personal level; it places itself in the realms of the aesthetic.

However at moments, interludes of psychosis and disturbance are carefully placed; that subconsciously resonate deeply within us. One could consider this a venture into understanding our own psychological abyss. As with the elitist circles of art films and cultural cinema, it would, naturally, be a tendency of the viewer to analyse, critique, look for symbolism and try to deconstruct it. It almost seems to mock our impulse to be the psychiatrist, the intellectual, to place logic, reason and rationality behind every aspect of our lives. Yet, if there is no more than one thing that this film teaches us, it would be that in life, in most aspects, there is no reason, rhyme or rationality, and where there is none, to try and force it is an act of fear. It asks us to treat those situations the same way you must treat this film; indulge in the moment.


Antichrist. Norway: Lars Von Trier, 2009. film.

Brooks, Xan. 'Antichrist: A Work Of Genius Or The Sickest Film In The History Of Cinema?'. the Guardian. N.p., 2009. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Filmquarterly.org,. '“Antichrist”: A Discussion « Film Quarterly'. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Taylor, Trey. 'The Five Most Disturbing Films In Recent Memory'. Dazed. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Written by Jennifer Richards

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