Structures of Depressive Experience in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist and Melancholia
Philosophy Department Seminar – Thursday 1 March
Room 005, 48/49 Old Elvet, Durham.
Refreshments will be served from 11am with the talk commencing at 11.30am.
Lars von Trier is variously regarded as one of Europe’s most provocative and most brilliant filmmakers. This paper offers a close comparative reading of his two most recent films, Antichrist (2009) and Melancholia (2011). Although von Trier has been open in discussing the films’ relationship to his own experiences of severe depression, I do not propose to read either text as psychobiography or catharsis, or to assess their fidelity to standard clinical accounts of psychic suffering. Instead, drawing on the work of contemporary phenomenological and psychoanalytic philosophers, I will discuss the exploration of grief, self-loathing, anxiety, erotic agitation, loss, extreme lethargy, despair and cruelty in Antichrist and Melancholia, arguing that that these films together constitute a highly sophisticated study in the lived experience of depression.