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Antichrist is a experimental psychological horror film written and directed by Lars von Trier and starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
It tells the story of a couple who, after the death of their child, retreat to a cabin in the woods where the man experiences strange visions and the woman manifests increasingly violent sexual behaviour and sadomasochism. The narrative is divided into a prologue, four chapters and an epilogue. Written in while von Trier had been hospitalised due to a significant depressive episodethe film was largely influenced by his own struggles with depression and anxiety.
Filming began in the late summer ofprimarily in Germanyand was a Danish production co-produced by several other film production companies from six different European countries.
After its premiere at the Cannes Film Festivalwhere Gainsbourg won the festival's award for Best Actressthe film immediately caused controversy, with critics generally praising its artistic execution but remaining strongly divided regarding its substantive merit.
The film is dedicated to the Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky — Antichrist is the first film in von Trier's unofficially titled Depression Trilogy. It was followed in by Melancholia and then by Nymphomaniac in A couple has sex in their Seattle, Washington apartment while their toddler, Nic, climbs up to the bedroom window and falls to his death. The mother collapses at the funeral, and spends the next month in the hospital crippled with atypical grief. The father, a therapist, is skeptical of the psychiatric care she is receiving and takes it upon himself to treat her personally with psychotherapy.
She reveals that her second greatest fear is nature, prompting him to try exposure therapy. They hike to their isolated cabin in a woods called Eden, where she spent time with Nic the previous summer while writing a thesis on gynocide. During the hike, he encounters a doe which shows no fear of him and has a stillborn fawn hanging halfway out of her.
During sessions of psychotherapy, she becomes increasingly grief-stricken and manic, often demanding forceful sex. The area becomes increasingly sinister to the man; acorns rapidly pelt the metal roof, he wakes up with a hand covered in swollen ticks, and he finds a self- disemboweling fox that tells him "chaos reigns. In the dark attic the man finds the woman's thesis studies, which includes violent portraits of witch-hunts, and a scrapbook in which her writing becomes increasingly frantic and illegible.
She reveals that while writing her thesis, she came to believe that all women are inherently evil. The man is repulsed by this and reproaches her for imbibing the gynocidal beliefs she had originally set out to criticize, Antichrist. In a frenzied moment, they have violent intercourse at the base of an ominous dead tree, where bodies are intertwined within the exposed roots.
He suspects that Satan is her greatest hidden fear. Upon viewing Nic's autopsy and photos she took of him while the two stayed at Eden, the man becomes aware that she had been systematically putting Nic's shoes on the wrong feet, resulting in a foot deformity. While in the woodshed, she attacks him, accuses him of planning to leave her, mounts him, and then smashes a large block of wood onto his groin, causing him to lose consciousness.
The woman then masturbates the unconscious man, culminating in an ejaculation of blood. She drills a hole through his leg, bolting a heavy grindstone through the wound, and tosses the wrench she used under the cabin. He awakens alone; unable to loosen the bolt, he hides by dragging himself into a deep foxhole at the base of the dead tree. Following the sound of a crow he has found buried alive in the hole, she locates him and attacks and mostly buries him with a shovel. Night falls; now remorseful, she unburies him but cannot remember where the wrench is.
She helps him back to the cabin, where she tells him she does "not yet" want to kill him, adding that "when the three beggars arrive someone must die. In the cabin she cuts off her clitoris with scissors. The two are then visited by the crow, the deer, and the fox, the three beggars.
A hailstorm begins; earlier it had been revealed that women accused of witchcraft had been known to have the power to summon hailstorms. When he finds the wrench under the cabin's floorboards, she attacks him with scissors, but he manages to unbolt the grindstone.
Finally free, he viciously Antichrist her and strangles her to death. He then burns her on a Antichrist pyre.
He limps from the cabin, eating wild berries, as the three beggars look on, now translucent and glowing. Reaching the top of a hill, under a brilliant light he watches in awe as hundreds of women in antiquated clothes come towards him, their faces blurred. Film scholar Magdalena Zolkos interprets Antichrist as an "origins story," citing its unnamed characters and setting—a woods called Eden—as primary reasons. Zolkos also notes the film as a "story of parental loss and the mourning and despair that follows.
While the film interweaves multiple themes in Zolkos's reading, she suggests that the film is fundamentally a "very personal and revealing film—interwoven with idioms and images that document von Trier's struggle with serious psychiatric disorder, and highly informed by his experience of cognitive behaviour and exposure therapy, shamanism and Jungian psychoanalysis. Scholar Amy Simmons notes that the film's aesthetic components "transcend categories, and as such, his work cannot be reduced to any one message.
In Antichristit is evident in the woman's intense anxiety and depressive withdrawal expressed through the neo-romantic landscape and supernaturalist elements of the forest to which she and her partner have retreated. Von Trier began writing Antichrist in while being hospitalised for depression. In the documentary the forests were portrayed as a place of great pain and suffering as the different species tried to kill and eat each other. Von Trier was fascinated by the contrast between this and the view of nature as a romantic and peaceful place.
Von Trier said: "At the same time that we hang it on our walls over the fireplace or whatever, it represents pure Hell. I took [the horror genre] more as an inspiration, and then this strange story came out of it. The title was the first thing that was written for the film. Von Trier was furious and decided to delay the shoot so he could rewrite the script. Invon Trier announced that he was suffering from depression, and that it was possible that he never would be able to make another film.
But right now I don't know," he told the Danish newspaper Politiken. The post-depression version of the script was to some extent written as an exercise for von Trier, to see if he had recovered enough to be able to work again. Von Trier has also made references to August Strindberg and his Inferno Crisis in the s, comparing it to his own writing under difficult mental circumstances: "was Antichrist my Inferno Crisis? Also credited are researchers dedicated to fields including "misogyny", "anxiety", "horror films" and "theology.
Production was led by von Trier's Copenhagen-based company Zentropa. Plaster casts were made of Willem Dafoe's leg and the female "porno double's" sexual organ. A plastic baby with authentic weight was made for the opening sequence. Pictures found using Google Image Search had to serve as models for the stillborn deer, and a nylon stocking was used as caul. The vulva prop was constructed with its inner parts detachable for easy preparation if several takes would be needed.
The fox, for example, was taught to open its mouth on a given command to simulate speaking movements. To get into the right mood before filming started, both Dafoe and Gainsbourg were shown Andrei Tarkovsky 's The Mirror from Willem Dafoewho had previously worked with Lars von Trier in Manderlaywas cast as "He" after contacting von Trier and asking what he was working on at the moment. He received the script for Antichristalthough he was told that von Trier's wife was skeptical about asking a renowned actor like Dafoe to do such an extreme role.
Dafoe accepted the part, later explaining its appeal to him: "I think the dark stuff, the unspoken stuff is more potent for an actor. It's the stuff we don't talk about, so if you have the opportunity to apply yourself to that stuff in a playful, creative way, yes I'm attracted to it. In casting the role of "She", actress Eva Green had been initially approached Antichrist the female lead.
According to von Trier, Green was determined to appear in the film, but her agents refused to allow her. The unsuccessful casting attempt took two months of the pre-production process. Eventually, Charlotte Gainsbourg expressed interest in the role, and by von Trier's words she was very eager to get cast: "Charlotte came in and said, 'I'm dying to get the part no matter what.
We had no problems whatsoever. Filming took 40 days to finish, from 20 August to the end of September The film was shot in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Locations were used in Rhein-Sieg-Kreispart of the Cologne region including rural areas in Nutscheid  and Wuppertal. It was the first film by von Trier to be entirely filmed in Germany.
The film was shot on digital video, primarily using Red One cameras in 4K resolution. The slow motion sequences were shot with a Phantom V4 in 1, frames per second. Filming techniques involved dollyshand-held camerawork and computer-programmed "motion control", of which the team had previous experience from von Trier's film The Boss of It All.
One shot, where the couple is copulating under a tree, was particularly difficult since the camera would switch from being hand-held to motion controlled in the middle of the take. Von Trier had not recovered completely from his depression when filming started.
He repeatedly excused himself to the actors for being in the mental condition he was, and was not able to operate the camera as he usually does, which made him very frustrated. It must be kept in mind that extra-Scriptural tradition furnishes us no revealed supplement to the Biblical data concerning Antichrist.
While these latter are sufficient to make the believer recognize the "man of sin " at the time of his coming, the lack of any additional reliable revelation should put us on our guard against the daydreams of the Irvingitesthe Mormonsand other recent proclaimers of new revelations. It may not be out of place to draw the reader's attention to two dissertations by the late Cardinal Newman on the subject of Antichrist. The one is entitled "The Patristic Idea of Antichrist"; it considers successively his time, religion, city, and persecution.
It formed the eighty-third number of the "Tracts for the Times. Koppe, Nitzsch, Storr, and Pelt contended that the Antichrist is an evil principle, not embodied either in a person or a polity; this opinion is in opposition to both St.
Paul and St. Both Apostles describe the adversary as being distinctly concrete in form. A second view admits that the Antichrist is a personbut it maintains that he is a person of the past; NeroDiocletianJulianCaligula, Titus, Simon MagusSimon the son of Giora, the High Priest Ananias, Vitellius, the Jewsthe Phariseesand the Jewish zealots have been variously identified with the Antichrist.
But there is little traditional authority for this opinion; besides, it does not appear to satisfy fully the prophetic predictions, and, in the case of some of its adherents, it is based on the supposition that the inspired writers could not transcend the limits of their experiences. A third opinion admitted that the Antichrist must indeed appear in a concrete form, but it identified this concrete form with the system of the Papacy.
Bramhall introduced qualifications into the theory, and after this its ascendancy began to wane among English writers. After this general survey of the Protestant views concerning the Antichrist, we shall be able to appreciate some of Cardinal Newman's critical remarks on the question.
If any part of the Church be proved to be antichristian, all of the Church is so, the Protestant branch inclusive. The Papal-Antichrist theory was gradually developed by three historical bodies: the Albigensesthe Waldensesand the Fraticelli, between the eleventh and the sixteenth centuries: are these the expositors from whom the Church of Christ is to receive the true interpretation of the prophecies?
The defenders of the Papal-Antichrist theory have made several signal blunders in their arguments; they cite St. Bernard as identifying the Beast of the Apocalypse with the Popethough St. Bernard speaks in the passage of the Antipope ; they appeal to the Abbot Joachim as believing that Antichrist will be elevated to the Apostolic Seewhile the Abbot really believes that Antichrist will overthrow the Pope and usurp his See; finally, they appeal to Pope Gregory the Great as asserting that whoever claims to be Universal Bishop is Antichrist, whereas the great Doctor really speaks of the Forerunner of Antichrist who was, in the language of his day, nothing but a token of an impending great evil.
Protestants were driven to the Papal-Antichrist theory by the necessity of opposing a popular answer to the popular and cogent arguments advanced by the Church of Rome for her Divine authority. Warburton, Newton, and Hurd, the advocates of the Papal-Antichrist theory, cannot be matched against the saints of the Church of Rome. If the Pope be Antichrist, those who receive and follow him cannot be men like St.
Bernardor St. Francis de Sales. If the Church must suffer like Christ, and if Christ was called Beelzebubthe true Church must expect a similar reproach; thus, the Papal-Antichrist theory becomes an argument in favor of the Roman Church. The gibe, "If the Pope is not Antichrist, he has bad luck to be so like him", is really another argument in favour of the claims of the Pope; since Antichrist simulates Christ, and the Pope is an image of ChristAntichrist must have some similarity to the Popeif the latter be the true Vicar of Christ.
APA citation. Maas, A. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. MLA Antichrist. Maas, Anthony.
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