On Wednesday evening, The Curzon Mayfair played host to the UK premiere of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, one of the most talked about films of the year.
Fans lined the street in anticipation of the arrival of Miss Kirsten Dunst and the one and only Mr John Hurt. The evening kicked off with a short Q&A hosted by film-writer and Director of Programming, Jason Wood. The starry duo (and on screen father and daughter) answered questions carefully, avoiding too much pre-screening plot-revelation. Of their controversial director, John stated, “When Lars Von Trier asks you to work with him – you don’t ask to look at the script, you ask him when and where”.
Melancholia begins with a prologue of stunning, foreboding images accompanied by the wonderfully loud Tristan & Isolde overture by Wagner. The intensely slow motion, almost static images of apocalyptic scenes feature incredible lighting and are reminiscent of photographs by Annie Leibovitz. Divided into two parts, each focuses on one of the sisters in the movie – Part one: Justine, played by Kisten Dunst and Part two: Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg.
After the prologue, we are introduced to Justine and her husband-to-be, Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) as they make their way to their overly-expensive wedding. The light mood is short-lived. Kirsten, who won the Best Actress Award at Cannes for her role, plays the depressed bride brilliantly with her incredibly accurate portrayal of the illness. The wedding is a disaster, the groom leaves and the disconnected Justine spirals ever deeper into her blank, insular world. It is then discovered that a planet formerly hidden by the Sun, ‘Melancholia’, is heading towards earth. Accepting her fate and that of the world in an all too calm way, Justine takes on the stronger, more supportive role as Claire quite understandably struggles with the situation. Her second Lars Von Trier film in three years, Charlotte previously played the similarly depressed lead in his 2009 arthouse-horror Antichrist.
Melancholia will take you on an extraordinarily beautiful yet cruel journey to the depths of depression, assisted somewhat by the impending apocalypse. Let it.
Melancholia is released today.
Text: Francesca Dunn