Sunday, March 4, 2012

Melancholy for Melancholia

I like reading up on the Oscars to see all the pretty dresses.  I often internally contest the worthiness of the nominees and ultimately I don't care who wins.  Billy Crystal hit the nail on the head when he called the Academy out for the ridiculousity of millionaires giving each other gold trophies.  I may have added the ridiculous part, but it was implied.

That being said, how did Melancholia get completely ignored?  Seriously.  Melancholia was my favorite movie of the year, followed closely by Midnight in Paris, which also got much less attention than the big winner, The Artist.  I saw The Artist and enjoyed it but, in my opinion both Melancholia and Midnight in Paris had much, much more to offer.

I saw Melancholia twice in the theater and could have seen it twice more.  I found it beautiful, original, and impactful.  I've always been a fan of sensationalist end-of-the-world movies, but this affected me in a much different way because it did not take the usual "panic in the streets" approach.  There was a sense of dread permeating the entire film, but it was tempered with a calm that arose partially out of the solitude of the characters. Melancholia perfectly blended depression and dread with beauty and acceptance. Every time I think about Melancholia, the feelings I had in the theater immediately return almost like sensory memories.

The film opens as an opera would with an overture.  The haunting music is from Wagner's opera Tristan and Isolde and plays over a montage of ultra slow-motion, almost still-frame shots that foreshadow the coming events of the film.

Both Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg were wonderful in the film, but I found Gainsbourg especially so.  She conveyed the internal conflict of the character brilliantly.  Gainsbourg, the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg, is - like her father - a musician as well as an actor.  I leave you with a song...

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