What does it take for a cult hero to suddenly grab the interest of the mainstream? For legendary director Lars Von Trier, it had probably had a lot to do with THOSE ill-advised, widely misinterpreted comments about being “a bit of a Nazi” – but perhaps, with or without such publicity, “Melancholia” could still have been the film to take him to a wider audience.

All the trademarks of a proper blockbuster are present – a Hollywood star at the centre (Kirsten Dunst in a momentous coming-of-age role) and screen-dominating special effects. But this film is far from a “sell out”, having a kind of artistic grace that mainstream Hollywood can only dream of. This owes a lot to Von Trier’s truly sumptuous long-lens style, allowing scope for vast landscapes in which the natural becomes fantastical and the fantastical becomes natural. The openng “prologue” is particularly breathtaking – as is its heart-stopping final scene, on which I shall not elaborate any further due to the “spoiler” syndrome.


The core theme of “Melancholia” is the end of the world, but were other films of this theme take a hysterical, disaster-movie slant, Von Trier keeps things subtle by shrinking the effects of this to a pair of sisters, Justine and Claire (Dunst and an excellent Charlotte Gainsbourg) – no government, no security, no rush from superior figures to save the world, just the impact of these forthcoming events on the two of them – Claire driven into a blind panic by what will come, Justine to blighted by manic depression for anything outside of her world to register, Camus’ “Outsider” for the apocalypse nation.

Depression is a huge part of this film, with both its director Von Trier and its star Dunst being noted sufferers. Some of the imagery linked to Justine’s state of mind is beautiful – the influence of John Everett Millais classic painting “Ophelia” never really leaves the screen –but the condition is never sugar coated; Von Trier has not felt the need to present a constantly sympathetic character in order to reflect sympathy back on himself. Indeed, Justine can at times be frustrating to watch, something which I heard a group of fellow cinema-goers saying – clearly, Von Trier is not quite ready to win over the masses.

The highest praise I can give “Melancholia”, though, is that it is genuinely affecting; a film with themes so huge, handled so effectively, that it stays with the viewer into the next day. I attended the 5:15 showing and it was a bright day when I entered the cinema – owing to the lengthy nature of the film, when I stepped out into the open air it was pitch-black, dominated by a glaring moon. The atmosphere post-cinema has never felt so right in relation to the film.

If you are a blockbuster fan put off by the arthouse links of “Melancholia”, or an arthouse fan concerned Von Trier is pandering to the blockbuster market, worry not. The two different sides to this film ensure that it is something acolytes of both can truly appreciate.

BUT…Nottingham Broadway cinema is an amazing cinema with wonderfully reasonably priced tickets, but £3.15 for a Sailor Jerry? This is the Midlands, not London!

Amy Britton