The film Melancholia by Lars von Trier gradually develops into the character’s depression through their actions and choices that can relate directly to Lars von Trier’s own depression and unfortunate childhood circumstances. The main protagonist of the movie, Justine, is depressed and this affects everyone around her. Lars von Trier, the writer and director, is depressed was depressed when creating this film and this depression is reflected in Melancholia.
Freudian theories relate to Melancholia through Justine’s life as well as her love life. She is constantly unsatisfied and immediately has an extramarital sexual encounter when she is vulnerable. Freudian theories are demonstrated through the depression from the characters in the movie to the writer. Some of Freudian theories that will be discussed are looking at how some of the character experiences are similar to Lars von Triers past and the Oedipus complex. Lars von Trier’s past greatly influenced how and what he wrote for Melancholia.
Freud said that “the notion that human beings are motivated, even driven, by desires, fears, needs, and conflicts of which they are unaware” (Tyson, 14-15) indicates Lars von Trier is motivated by his past experiences. The viewer learns quickly that Justine has an unhappiness that constantly affects her daily routine, and she pretends to be someone else when she’s around others. Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.
These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in one’s ability to take care of their everyday responsibilities. Justine shows signs of depression throughout the film for example, when refusing to take a bath or go riding which she usually she enjoys doing. People with depression tend to be exhausted on a regular basis similar to when Justine left her own wedding party to have a nap. Lars von Trier may have experienced the same symptoms of depression in his personal experiences, as well his childhood might have influenced why he became epressed in his later life which could have possibly enhanced his work for Melancholia. Although Lars was diagnosed with depression in 2007, he had a difficult childhood. He did not know who his biological father was until his mother told him on her death bed. Freud believed that “our unconscious was influenced by childhood events”. Lars von Trier stated during an interview that “I come from a family of communist nudists. I was allowed to do or not to do what I like. My parents were not interested in whether I went to school or get drunk on white wine.
After a childhood like that, you search for restrictions in your own life. ” Lars’ childhood relates greatly to the character of Justine. Justine’s parents did not seem to care for her. During Justine’s wedding, her parent’s self-absorption is reflected in their speeches about their marriage problems. As well, her parents did not care or take time for her when Justine specifically asked a few times to talk privately to her father and he could not find the time. In the bedroom, Justine was upset and asked her mother for help but her mother was no help at all.
Her mom did not seem to care and her father left the wedding leaving only a note saying that he was leaving with another woman and to “forgive an old fool”. Lars’ and Justine’s parents have similar responses to their children of not caring. Claire was distraught and acted out of character, she could no longer organize her thoughts and be as calm around Justine as she was before, alike to Lars’ thoughts he quoted “Everything is going to Hell, but we should smile all the way. ” (Lars personal quotes on IMDB) Once Justine realized Melancholia was going to hit the earth she became collected and composed.
At the end of the movie Justine, Claire and Leo site together, close their eyes and hold hands as Justine had instructed. This is one of the only scenes where Justine actually genuinely smiles. She appears to be at peace and content even though she knows that the end of the world is approaching. This scene relates to Lars’ quote. Even though Justine knows everything is going to Hell, she is smiling even at the end. Lars’ mentions the restrictions he puts on his life like Justine not allowing herself to have a happy marriage and accept her husband’s love and happiness.
Justine becomes very depressed during her wedding and cheats on her newly wedded husband. She will not have a real relationship with her husband but moments later will have a quick sexual encounter with a complete stranger. This relates to Freud’s beliefs in the Oedipus complex, a girl’s desire for her father and anger and jealousy towards her mother. Justine’s father flirts openly with other women in front of his wife and children at the wedding. Justine has a sexual encounter with a stranger trying to mimic a relationship alike to her fathers.
This may have influenced Justine’s decision to behave dishonestly with her husband even though her husband loved her very much. Justine’s mother makes a speech during the wedding dinner and expresses her animosity against marriage, while Justine and her sister Claire look at their mother with anger and embarrassment. Justine and Claire disrespect their mother by getting married, knowing to expect her disapproving comments, yet criticize her for it. “The result is a murderous rage against the Mother… and a desire to possess the Father” (1016)
Melancholia is about the world ending and in Justine’s small world she is depressed, Citing Freudians Oedipus Complex one can parallel Lars’ state of depression which is shown throughout the movie. The character’s actions mirror Lars von Trier’s beliefs and experiences through his life and through his depression, which is a huge factor in Melancholia. As well the relationships Justine has reflects the Oedipus Complex through her behaviour and decisions. Therefore Freudian theories relate directly to Melancholia.
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