As a giant planet called Melancholia may or may not collide with Earth, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is about to get married but is overcome with depression. In Lars von Trier’s perhaps most obvious attempt to tackle his personal experiences of depression onscreen, he does it in the shape of a moody disaster movie. Divided into two halves, the story first portrays the beginning of the crisis at a wedding that goes off the rails, then the days prior to the potential impact and how the sight of Melancholia affects everyone. Heavy with symbolism, the film has excellent performances by Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg as well as stunning visuals (some of them reminiscent of Antichrist).
2011-Denmark-Sweden-France-Germany. 135 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Meta Louise Foldager, Louise Vesth. Written and directed by Lars von Trier. Cinematography: Manuel Alberto Claro. Production Design: Jette Lehmann. Cast: Kirsten Dunst (Justine), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire), Alexander Skarsgård (Michael), Brady Corbet, Cameron Spurr, Charlotte Rampling… Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, Jesper Christensen.
Trivia: Penélope Cruz was allegedly considered for the lead. At the Cannes premiere of the film, von Trier was declared “persona non grata” after a string of Nazi jokes at a press conference.
Cannes: Best Actress (Dunst). European Film Awards: Best Film, Cinematographer, Production Designer.
Last words: “I felt very paranoid, really, because [von Trier] didn’t have time to deal with me or reassure me. Later on, I asked him if he wanted to fire me. I was so paranoid! Because I had had so much of him before, on ‘Antichrist’. Even though he said he was going through a very difficult time on that film, and didn’t know whether he would be able to cope with the shoot, still he was there and watching us. He was very present. This film got easier and easier as it went along. It got much closer to what I had already experienced with him.” (Gainsbourg, Salon)