Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia Trailer: Save the Last Dunst!

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Published April 8, 2011

“No more happy endings!,” Danish filmmaker and firebrand Lars Von Trier declared in October 2009 at the pre-production press conference for Melancholia, his follow-up to Antichrist. The trailer, which was released today, opens on Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), who have arrived late to their own wedding reception. “We made it!” Dunst announces in her rosette-bunched dress, top braid, and pearls, as she enters the amber-lit castle ballroom where friends and family cheer. Bringing to mind fellow Dogme 95 comrade Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration, the tone quickly shifts from wedding pomp—champagne hues, jazz, “the first dance,” a stray flower girl running in between legs—to something far more ominous. A “red star” is spotted in the sky outside. “It’s a planet that’s been hiding behind the sun and now it passes by us,” so says the prophetic voice of a child (usually a sign of doom).

Von Trier’s familiar finery emerges: a woebegone bride wilting on a stack of rented chairs, or alone in a bathtub, or confronted by her fearful sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), “Sometimes I hate you so much.” Nature too, reproaches: a downpour of hail, a swollen and impending “other” planet, snow in summer, and lightning (or is it smoke?) rising from Dunst’s fingers. Bucolic alchemy? Armageddon? The end is near?

With Dunst and Skarsård joined by Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, and Udo Kier, Von Trier’s latest seems customarily dark, paranoid, and fixated on the fabling of female characters. Still, we’re excited to see it, and especially looking forward to Charlotte Rampling’s character, who toasts (or hexes?) at the trailer’s juncture—”I just have one thing to say, enjoy it while it lasts. I myself hate marriages”—and who always delivers a haunting performance.