The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

ANTICHRIST (on cowardice)

Posted in Theory by Noah Harlan on May 20, 2009
He was ready to fight a war but then ducked out the back entrance after throwing the first stone.  His not staying to the end of the film was a bit childish and seemed like an act of cowardice.
As for the film, I don’t really object to much of what you wrote and the images are exceptional (ironically Von Trier shares cinematographer with the most banal of last year’s films: SLUMDOG).  However, I think you gave him a complete pass on a script that seemed written by an first-year film student getting over his first break-up.  It juvenile in the extreme, lacking any subtlety (“Chaos Reigns” anyone?) and frankly gave Dafoe and Gainsbourg so little to work with that they were left gesticulating wildly to make up for the deficit.
I think the film is nowhere as bad as its detractors say and nowhere as good as its proponents.  In the end it is the worst of all, it is at best mediocre.  To hide this mediocrity, Von Trier compels himself to carry on like a child, incapable of engaging in intelligent discussion of his work and cowardly running from the public response.  He is disingenuous in his claim that he doesn’t make films for an audience.  When I watched ANTICHRIST I felt that I was watching a film that was made to do nothing other than face the audience.
Too bad Von Trier can’t.
Lars Von Trier arriving for ANTICHRIST at Cannes

Von Trier arriving from inside the theater

I am at Cannes for the festival this year with a wonderful project, FREE IN DEED,  in the Atelier.  My director, Jake Mahaffy, and I were at the premier of Lars Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST and have been watching much of the response to the film.  After hearing stories of fainting, yelling and booing at the press screening we were intrigued and excited – hoping to see either a masterpiece or a disaster.  In the end, we saw neither and in that middle ground were left thoroughly disappointed.  Karina Longworth from Spout wrote a review of the film and I posted a response, which I place below.

[Von Trier] was ready to fight a war but then ducked out the back entrance after throwing the first stone.  His not staying to the end of the film was a bit childish and seemed like an act of cowardice.

As for the film, I don’t really object to much of what you wrote and the images are exceptional (ironically Von Trier shares cinematographer with the most banal of last year’s films: SLUMDOG).  However, I think you gave him a complete pass on a script that seemed written by a first-year film student getting over his first break-up.  It is juvenile in the extreme, lacking any subtlety (“Chaos Reigns” anyone?) and frankly gave Dafoe and Gainsbourg so little to work with that they were left gesticulating wildly to make up for the deficit.

I think the film is nowhere as bad as its detractors say and nowhere as good as its proponents.  In the end it is the worst of all, it is at best mediocre.  To hide this mediocrity, Von Trier compels himself to carry on like a child, incapable of engaging in intelligent discussion of his work and cowardly running from the public response.  He is disingenuous in his claim that he doesn’t make films for an audience.  When I watched ANTICHRIST I felt that I was watching a film that was made to do nothing other than face the audience.

Too bad Von Trier can’t.

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