Posts Tagged ‘Lars von Trier’

Nymphomaniac vol. II – Lars von Trier

Nymphomaniac_Lars_Von_TrierBeing free is being lonely. Always.

Nymphomaniac is all about freedom. Free sex, free speech and free will versus hypocrisy and bigotry; the nymphomaniac says it clearly. Seligman’s digressions are nothing but digressions; the nymphomaniac says that clearly too. But overall there is still a major digression to her story – the parallel between sex and art.

There is nothing true about sex and art if they’re not free. So ultimately is about the profile of an artist in relation to his own art. It’s reflective, descriptive and didactic. An artist’s statement we’re learning about while having fun and getting sad for it implies loneliness, the loneliness of the one who cannot bargain, cannot compromise and cannot lie.

Art is just art (?), words are just words (?) and sex is just sex (?). The question marks only indicate the billions of possibilities to relate to these statements.

The concepts are pure but when human nature is involved purity becomes mere abstraction. Art is seen as crap or vice versa, words are never really understood – not by the one uttering them and even less by the one listening to them. Sex is taboo, side dish, religion, sport or anything else you wish to add. And there’s morality to blur it even more and there’s false morality to make it all opaque.

We’re all different, says the nymphomaniac, so there is no possible way to fit the boundaries of morality to protect each individual’s freedom. Some have less freedom than others.
The nymphomaniac would erase all rules and morality and would leave us all to be guided by our own consciousness. Those who can refrain themselves from harming others when there’s no punishment in sight deserve an award.

She is both naïve and cynical. An idealist.

And so is the artist who probably feels less free than any other individual in the society. Or the one who feels less free becomes an artist? But the ideal public who could fully understand and accept the work of art as it is does not exist or it exists in a percentage that will always leave the artist unfulfilled and misunderstood.

“Lascia ch’io pianga
mia cruda sorte,
e che sospiri la libertà.
Il duolo infranga queste ritorte
de’ miei martiri sol per pietà.”
G.F Handel

Nymphomaniac Vol. I – Lars von Trier

umaAre we by any chance subject of an experiment here? After a certain number of screenings will Lars von Trier hold a press conference presenting his conclusions based on the wild frenzy that made hundreds of people rush into the theaters to see Nymphomaniac vol. I? An experience to prove that sex is the catchiest subject is useless, we all know is the best selling item… Than what is it?

Is Nymphomaniac the latest hip movie we’re all to forget sooner or later or is this a spectacular splash that will rock the boat on the long term? Will it be there in the Pantheon? I can’t wait ten years to pass to see how the film historians will remember this.

The most intriguing thing for me is the gap between the wrapping and the content. Lars von Trier spent a lot on a publicity campaign that is, if not misleading, at least more tricky than usual.

Trailers have to be tricky and sometimes they promise a slightly different if not more interesting story than the movie itself. That’s not new.

With Nymphomaniac everybody expects sex scenes. But we get just a few short ones, absolutely relevant though. More sex scenes would not have been too much either, probably, but I think that the pinch of sex scenes used is the perfect ratio. A film about sex should not necessarily contain sex scenes.

The poster is a bit unusual. We can see the characters in photographs that look like excerpts from the movie but they’re not. I am not saying that this is cheating but it stuck with me.

The title is money in the bank but I am curious if Gainsbourg’s character is really a nymphomaniac or she/we just think she is.

Nymphomaniac vol. I is about sex from the first minute to the last excepting(?) some moments when ash-trees are involved. So there should be no complaint against the publicity campaign.

Yet the contrast is intriguing because what Lars von Trier is actually doing is connecting us through the topic of hyper sexuality to mysterious and delicate abstractions such as music, mathematics, poetry and vice versa.

This is the contrast that makes me so uncertain; the content of this film is so sensitive and the publicity around it is so cynical: “Forget about love” is the triumphant motto.

The conclusion of Volume I is that the secret ingredient to sex is not love. Does sex really need a secret ingredient? Then what is it? Has this secret ingredient anything to do with Bach, Fibonacci, Poe, with the arts?

In case I’m asking the right questions I’ll definitely have the answers in Nymphomaniac volume II, unless I’m not too much of a stupid dilettante to recognize the answers. I’ll soon find out…

P.S. Of what I’m certain of is that Uma Thurman’s scene is the top of this cake so far.

Antichrist – Lars von Trier

An accident happens during sexual intercourse between a man and a woman then medical treatment is refused by the man in treating the woman’s grief and sense of guilt. Finally, both of them go to the woods where he thinks she can overcome the trauma.

This way Lars von Trier unleashes medieval fear upon his characters and upon us. The forest is the ultimate alien space in the medieval Christian imaginary, the most feared one. Those who entered the forest or lived by the forest were feared, outcasts. Embracing nature was a first sign of being astray from Christian rules, a sign of witchcraft. Medicine itself was seen as evil, illness was believed to be sent by God as punishment. Not so long ago – some of us still believe that – mental illness was seen as demonic possession, weakness of character or lack of common sense.

Lars von Trier places his two characters in the middle of the forest and isolates them from their cerebrum. Repeated shots of her and, towards the end, his back head (cerebellum and brain stem) leads to this conclusion. The old brain, where fear, dominance, reflexes, unconsciousness lie is what drives the two characters through a horrible experience. Their journey is telling us the archetypal story about man and his first encounter with “otherness”, which is not the wild beast he has to hunt down for his own protection, nor natural disasters, these are far from being his equal enemies – these probably made him imagine the gods – but the woman. So close and yet so far he had to tame her in order not to fear her.

But these are not served the easy way. The movie’s discourse is based on medieval Christian judgments and misogyny and it is launched on at least two channels. His attitude towards her is emblematic for the treatment of women by men in history: “dominant but benevolent”. This channel is the wicked one, because it is in focus and that makes it seem rational. The other channel is the tricky one and is led by her. She is the patient, worthy of compassion up until she utters the ideas of the ancient believes on nature and woman’s nature. She becomes scary; suddenly her sexuality is demonic and irrational. The impact of a misogynistic discourse held by a woman is quite unsettling. Does she really think what she’s saying or is she provoking a reaction in the man who clings to his rationality? But is he really rational? Now she doesn’t seem a traumatized person anymore but a possessed one, don’t you think, dear Moses, Christian and Farouk? Towards the end, even if the story does not literally transcend the boundaries of medieval Christian believes, we can sense archetypes that are reasoning with all patriarchal believes.

Antichrist is what I expected a movie directed by Lars von Trier to be; an introspection in humanity. It is hard to face it, hard to stay distant from it because it works like a mirror. What does the fear of “otherness” have to do with Antichrist? Probably everything. Lars von Trier stylishly opens and closes the movie in black and white and slow motion. He even uses the same musical theme, but that is not for style but for another thing to chew on: Freedom.

%d bloggers like this: