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Let’s talk about “Antichrist”, a horror film directed by maker Lars von Trier, the cult Danish film maker, and starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. With all its troubles of the mind, body and spirit, “Antichrist” caused a huge commotion at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. This film is momentarily being flagged as one of the biggest scandals in the history of Cannes. This latest provocation from Lars von Trier qualifies as torture porn for art-house fans. This film is strong stuff indeed. Pulling the conventions of the genre inside out, von Trier denies his audience the standard comfort zones of emotional catharsis and moral resolution.

In “Antichrist,” Charlotte Gainsbourg plays an unnamed woman grieving the loss of her young son. When she and her therapist husband (Willem Dafoe) repair to their cabin in the woods, they plunge into a battle between irrational, “female” nature and logical, “male” reason – a fight that culminates in the film’s shocking final moments featuring graphic scenes of sexual mutilation and torture. Failing to find release in spontaneous sex, she becomes increasingly unhinged as the forest around them begins channelling her tormented mind. Her despair promptly ferments into a passionate hatred for her husband, who she subjects to prolonged torture after mutilating herself.

von Trier’s camera does not shy away from genitalia, which we find on display (in close-up) in various stages of arousal and torture. And we become aware of this in the first five minutes of the film. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are the couple we see writhing around in passionate embrace on the floor of their laundry room in the film’s black-and-white prologue. Von Trier doesn’t hold back in showing us every intimacy here. Genitalia come back into play with a vengeance in the following scenes. But from now sex will forever be connected with hurt and pain.

The more Dafoe’s character tries to banish his wife’s fear, the more both humans descend into primal violence. He determines that the best way for Her to overcome her fears is to confront them. But Gainsbourg’s character becomes increasingly unstable and determined to take revenge on her husband for the tragedy. Gainsbourg bites Dafoe during foreplay and, even later, begs him to hit her when in the act – Gainsbourg’s character says at one point, “Hit me so it hurts.” Sex and violence intertwined evermore.

In some scenes you’ll feel the pain. In one scene, she hits his genitals so hard that he falls into a coma. In the next scene she jerks his cock untill blood. In another scene, she is shown drilling a hole through his leg with a bit and brace. This film, really transported to greater emotional levels by the sight of she driving a spike through her mate’s leg, pinning it to a boulder and chasing him through the woods with a bloody knife. Then Gainsbourg’s character performs an act of genital self-mutilation with a pair of rusty scissors. She cut off own clitoris.

Gruesome torture and self-mutilation are carried out by Von Trier’s characters in the same no-holds-barred style as the sex scenes, which later included an interlude among the gnarled roots of a tree in which, when the camera pulls back, we see dozens of arms reaching out from among the roots. The graphic torture is painful to watch, including a scene in which he is whacked by a thick board.

But in truth, our opinion is that there’s nothing here that the torture porn horrors like “Hostel” and “Saw” haven’t done already. And besides, “AntiChrist’s” torture scenes are quite brief. The central premise of Lars von Trier’s most nerve-shuddering sojourn yet into the dark corners of the human psyche is: Women – evil or just misunderstood?

The nature in film is imbued with a Satanic element. The wife says at one point that “nature is Satan’s church”. Further, Nature and Satan are demonstrated to be in close connection. They may in fact be two reflections of the same terrifying reality. Is the wilderness a metaphor for humanity’s inner darkness, or man’s eternal struggle with nature? References are made to pagan-worshiping women massacred in the Medieval Ages.

The film has provoked controversy and criticism for being misogynist, but this seems to ignore the dramatic rationale that frames the personal hell von Trier creates. Gainsbourg has defended von Trier against accusations that the film exploits women. “He is depicting women of course with violence and very hard sex and pain and suffering, but I don’t think that he is judging women in a negative way” – she said. Yes, “Antichrist” is harrowing and often shrill, but the horrors all serve the underlying theme that, try as they might, men can never fully understand the inconsolable grief women endure.



One Response to Dark Side Of Female Nature

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  • Thina says:

    welcome back. glad you had a nice time. Sounds relaxing! we play that game too look at peolpe and wonder if they are a couple, if they’re a D/s couple, who’s Dom and who’s sub? It’s fun and interesting to see what makes your other half tick sometimes what they say tells you a lot about how they process things upstairs. have a good week!

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