Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Putting the Melatonin Back Into Melancholia

Recently I watched Melancholia. Holy crap I spelled it right the second time all on my own. I am the excite. Anyway I watched it on thanksgiving with a group of people and in retrospect this was both the best and the worst idea imaginable. I picked the movie for two reasons, 1) I knew that the host’s girlfriend would like it. And she did. 2) I wanted to see it. I didn’t put a whole lot of forethought into my actions and instead just plowed on ahead with reckless abandon. Now that the movie is over I realize there is a third reason. While I love the movie and I look forwards to the time where I will watch it again I realize now that the movie would of depressed the ever living hell out of me. Kate’s performance more than likely would of rattled me into a pit of sadness with no reason behind it and with no clear escape. When my friend turned to me and asked, “We are ruining this for you aren’t we?” I found that wasn’t the case. It allowed me to enjoy the movie without it getting inside of me. Things can do that and when they do the effect me in strange unfathomable ways that both fascinate and terrify me. However, I don’t want to be depressed right now or ever so I consider this all to be a good thing.

Personal business aside I loved the movie. In many ways it is a movie we’ve all see before. The world is ending. If you’ve seen the first episode of sliders you’ve seen this. Yeah there’s a blast from the past eh? In recent years there have been a pretty solid trickle of apocalypse movies that depict the world ending in a startling violent way, 2012 is the last one I can remember excisting because it starred the ever so pleasant John Cussack. Personally I think the movie was a waste of his talents but then again I didn’t see it so who knows I might be missing out on something wonderful. The Signal could also count in here somehow but that movie is in its own league. Anyway elsewhere in the world that Meloncholia takes place in all these events are happening. There are people flipping out, looting, rioting, people screaming because the world is going to end as a rouge planetoid gets caught in our gravitational pull and murders us all. This isn’t so in Melancholia. The whole movie takes place in utter isolation as we watch one very broken family try to come to grips with the fact that the world is going to end. These people seem almost deliberately cut off from the world. The only other place that is mentioned with any frequency is “the village”. Now I am used to watching foreign films that are translated from some other language to me because I only knows the English. So the occational misplaced word normally goes under my radar, but village? Village gives rise to thatched huts and shepperd scooting sheep around. Or a group of people living off in the woods away from all society because the Amish are to progessive for them. Look at the way we talk about permenate gatherings of people here in America, Amish have communities, survivalist compounds, communes, towns, cities, suburbs, the world villiage simply isn’t in our day to day lexicon unless we are talking about some sort of remote place in a different country filled with sheep.

I started with mining the word village because the theme of utter isolation is one the pervades all aspects of the movie. It is literally everywhere in the wedding which is something I want to talk about at length because it gets ignored to often even though it is half of the bloody movie, and of course Kate. I shouldn’t have to explain Kate I think we all understand why she is the epitome of isolation though I’ll be revisiting her when I talk about the end if I don’t loose interest first and start playing Mount and Blade. The wedding is, well why is it there? Ask a room whoes seen it and you’ll likely get a room full of people with their hands in their pockets trying not to make eye contact. The wedding is entertaining from the Father of the bride with his Betties, to the poor poor groom who is literally the prettiest sweetest man in the world trying the cheer his bride up, to the bride’s boss being an absolute dooshbag, to the mother’s unalloyed bitterness, to a visit to the sand trap, angerly whispered secret conversations between the bride and her sister, and all crammed into 45 minutes of space. I love movies about snooty rich people being aweful to each other in petty ways. I have seen Gosford Park more times than I care to admit along with a smattering of other movies and this movie does it all in 45 minutes.

Anyway, First and foremost, the reason for the wedding is the utter contrast between the movie’s two sections. The movie itself is broken up into two chapters and one is overflowing with energy and life, not happiness mind you, but at least people are running around and doing things. The first chapter also takes place almost exclusively at night with the exception of the ill fated limo ride which has to be one of the most adorable things ever. Whereas the second part of the movie only has the main family and the buttler at first then even the buttler leaves. The second part of the movie does have a day/night cycle but overwhelmingly most of the action takes place during the day. It isn’t normal pretty day time either, the daylight is always very stark all throughout the movie.

Secondly the reason for the wedding is to showcase Kate’s depression and to show how she lives in a world that is pretty much totally cut off from itself. The utter solipsism of her wedding is one of those things that makes me more than a little ill. I am not going to list all the examples because once I get rolling you’ll see it for youself clear as day. So here we go! “I won’t even begin to say how late you are” The first words spoken to Kate at her reception, not, “Oh you are okay” or “Thank god you made it we were worried, or even a more callous but still converned, “What happened to you two”. No it is, “You are late and I don’t care that you had to walk over the stupid forbidden bridge”. There is the host who never lets Kate forget how much money the wedding and reception is costing her. Her mother. The guy refusing to look at her. There we go. The reception isn’t about their wedding, and I bet the wedding wasn’t about them either. Everyone wanted to be the center of everything and in order to be that way they would tear, kick, and insult the bride until she resorts to just randomly lashing out (Sex in the sand trap) and then telling her spandy new groom to take a hike. The whole thing is tragic because no one else would give them a chance. They were torn apart by people who didn’t care about them one way or another, with the possible exception of Kate’s sister. I say possible because my friend Kelly brought up the excellent point that her sister is an enabler extrodinair. Which is something I don’t know very much about but I can definitely see it. Though I would like to sat that at the end her sister’s husband died alone whereas the two sisters went together hand in hand facing the end with tenderness.

Ah yes the ending. The ending goes to show that is there is one handy thing about depression is that it makes the end of the world no more or less aweful than everyday existence. I suppose this ties into the world of solipsism that Kate inhabits but depression isn’t voluntary whereas most of the people were acting that way at her wedding because they are dicks. It is an important distinction to me. Regardless, Kate is uniquely unconcerned by the end of the world which ends up propping up her sister and being her final comfort bringing the second chapter of the movie full circle right as the world ends. It is nice. I actually don’t have much to say about the ending. It happened slowly, it was tragic as all get out, and it was a bittersweet as it could be. There isn’t much more to say about it other than it is powerful and takes you away leaving you feeling numb.

It is a fantastic movie and I wish it would get a wider release. With the ridiculous success of Black Swan I was hoping that movies like this would get more attention in the theaters or something like that. That some studio executive would go “hey these movies can be successful”. As we watched our own artsy independent film on thanksgiving 4 other artsy independent films were hitting the theater in a limited release and all 4 of them did very well. So just to be clear 4 artsy independent films are released at the same time in no more than 50 screen all across the US and all of them made money. This is going more into how evil the major studios are and I think I am going to stop here as I realize that it is about the first and there is chores I need to go do. Another day. Until then I am off.

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