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A couple is grieving the death of their son, who fell from a window. The mother, an academic who studies the hatred and murder of women throughout history, is at first admitted to psychiatric hospital after the incident, but her husband, a headstrong therapist, insists on going with her to their remote forest cabin, Eden, and treating her himself. They immerse themselves in nature and act out their deep pain in a series of strange, dangerous, and brutal rituals.
For more about Antichrist and the Antichrist Blu-ray release, see Antichrist Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 28, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Lars von Trier
Writer: Lars von Trier
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm
» See full cast & crew
Antichrist Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 28, 2010
Danish director Lars von Trier's controversial film "Antichrist" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. Amongst the special features on the disc is an audio commentary in English with director Lars von Trier and Professor Murray Smith from University of Kent; an interview with Willem Dafoe; an informative conversation with French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg; footage from the Cannes Film Festival; and much more. With optional Danish and Italian subtitles. Region-B "locked". Please be advised that the film contains disturbing footage that is not appropriate for minors!
Danish director Lars von Trier's Antichrist is this year's most controversial film. Similar to Gaspar Noe's Irreversible, it has truly managed to get a number or people, including some prominent critics, out of their comfort zones. The well-mannered Todd McCarthy, who writes for Variety Magazine, for example, had this to say: "Lars von Trier cuts a big fat art-film fart with "Antichrist". As if deliberately courting critical abuse, the Danish bad boy densely packs this theological-psychological horror opus with grotesque, self-consciously provocative images that might have impressed even Hieronymus Bosch…" But is Antichrist truly that bad?
Depending on how flexible your tolerance for human suffering is, I'd say yes. Antichrist is not an easy film to endure – it offers a chilling trip into the bleak world of a devastated couple – He (Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Science of Sleep) - where abuse, misery and self-humiliation are examined in a shockingly disturbing fashion.
Antichrist is divided into four chapters – Grief, Pain (Chaos Reigns), Despair (Gynocide), and The Three Beggars - each focusing on the complex process of coming to terms and eventually overcoming the loss of a loved one. The film also has a short prologue and epilogue; the former chronicles the tragedy, the latter summarizes the consequences of it.
Now, here's exactly why the film has turned off so many who have already seen it:
First, Antichrist is not a symbolic film. What you see in it is what von Trier wanted you to see. The visuals are so direct and powerful that you won't have to speculate about hidden meanings, unspoken messages, etc. The horror is right there, on the screen; it will hit you in the face and you will react to it during the film, not after.
Second, Antichrist is an explicit film. Not dirty, explicit. The sex is mechanical, cold and ugly. He and She have sex to temporarily escape the pain. In a cynical sort of way, Antichrist shows that sex is a form of therapy that works (religion isn't even mentioned).
Third, Satan, the Creator, the One who started it all. All four chapters in von Trier's film make it perfectly clear that it was Satan that created us; hence the reason why we suffer, kill and die. According to von Trier, God gave up on us and left. In Antichrist, He and She come to realize precisely that.
So, while Antichrist is a bad film, it is not a bad film. It is a powerful and very unsettling vision of a world where according to von Trier, a self-admitted atheist and Nietzsche admirer, only pain and evil are eternal.
Dafoe and Gainsbourg deliver notably brave performances. The latter, in particular, is so good, she actually does look possessed. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle's (The Last King of Scotland) lensing – a mix of cool black and white footage for the prologue and other parts of the film, and rich but cold color footage - is stunning.
Fragments from Georg Friedrich Händel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" from the composer's classic Italian opera Rinaldo, performed by by Tuva Semmingsen and Barokksolistene, appear during key scenes in the film.
Antichrist Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and ranted a 1080i50 transfer, Lars Von Trier's Antichrist arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
I had a very difficult time taking the screen captures that you are seeing in this review. For some strange reason, there was a lot of "combing" that was visible on some of them, which I don't recall seeing on the screen captures that I took to include with our review of the French release, courtesy of M6.
I don't see a notable gap in quality between the Artificial Eye and M6 discs (though the M6 one is BD50 while the Artificial Eye one is BD25). The Artificial Eye disc appears to have retained the exact same qualities we noted in our review for the M6 disc - the cold color-scheme, the "dreamy" look, the unusual contrast fluctuations. Again, edge-enhancement and macrobloking are not an issue of concern. I did not notice any annoying specs, debris, scratches, stains, or cuts to report in this review. The disc's main menu can be set in Danish or English.
(Note: This Blu-ray disc is encoded in 1080i50, a standard not supported by the overwhelming majority of Blu-ray players and TV sets in the U.S. Therefore, you must have a Region-Free player capable of converting 1080i50 to 1080i60, or a native Region-B player and a TV set capable of displaying 1080i50 data, in order to access the disc's content in the U.S.).
Antichrist Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1. Artificial Eye have provided optional Danish and Italian, but not English, subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
Again, I did not encounter any issues with the audio treatment. The dialog is crisp, clear and easy to follow. The surround activity on the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is limited, but there are some rather neat ambient effects. Finally, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hiss to report in this review.
Antichrist Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Behind the Test - a look at the pre-production work. In Danish, with optional English subtitles. (7 min).
The Evil of Woman - researcher Heidi Laura and director Lars von Trier talk about the mythological and theological context of the film. In English, with optional Italian subtitles. (8 min).
The Visual Style of Antichrist - director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle talks about the level of naturalism in Antichrist, the specific type of look desired by director Lars von Trier, how some of the most controversial scenes were shot, etc. In English, with optional Italian subtitles. (16 min).
Eden - production designer Karl "Kalli" Juliusson, producer Meta Louise Foldager and director Lars von Trier talk about the specific locations used in the film. In English and Danish, with optional Italian subtitles. (6 min).
The Three Beggars - animal handler Ota Bares talks about the animals used in the film. In English, with optional Italian subtitles. (9 min).
Confessions about Anxiety - director Lars von Trier talks about the controversial message of his film. In English, with optional Italian subtitles. (5 min).
The Make-Up Effects and Probs of Antichrist - a look at the special effects. In English, with optional Italian subtitles. (9 min).
The Sound and Music of Antichrist - sound designer Kristian Eidnes Andersen talks about the unique sounds used throughout the film. In Danish, with optional Italian and English subtitles. (13 min).
Chaos reigns at the Cannes Film Festival 2009 - raw footage from the Cannes Film Festival. There are a few quick comments from director Lars von Trier (in English), Charlotte Gainsbourg (in French) and Willem Dafoe (in English). In English, with optional Italian subtitles. (7 min).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In English. (2 min).
Interview with Charlotte Gainsbourg - an interview with the French actress conducted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. She talks about many of the challenging scenes in the film as well as the controversy surrounding it. In English, with optional Italian subtitles. (7 min).
Interview with Williem Dafoe - Willem Dafoe talks about his work with Lars von Trier, the challenges the script for Antichrist presented to him, his interaction with Charlotte Gainsbourg, some of the explicit scenes from the film, etc. In English, with optional English subtitles. (9 min).
Commentary - an audio commentary with Professor Murray Smith from University of Kent in the United Kingdom, and directors Lars von Trier. This is a very informative, well conducted, and perhaps also a bit controversial conversation that deconstructs the story of Antichrist, its unorthodox message, etc. In English.
Antichrist Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Artificial Eye's Blu-ray release is practically identical to M6's release. With the exception of Charlotte etc., all of the supplemental features from the French disc also appear on this disc. So, if you have the proper equipment to playback 1080i50-encoded discs, this one could be slightly cheaper to import to the U.S. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Antichrist Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Antichrist Gets Blu-ray - November 12, 2009
Artificial Eye has officially announced that it will release Lars von Trier's controversial 'Antichrist' on Blu-ray on January 11, 2010. Initially this was expected to be an HMV exclusive for November, but now apparently all retailers will have it on the same ...
• Antichrist Blu-ray Arrives in the UK in November - August 2, 2009
In an early announcement to retailers, it has been revealed that Artificial Eye is set to release Lars von Trier's shocking and controversial movie, 'Antichrist', uncut, on Blu-ray on November 23, day-and-date with the DVD. No information on specifications, special ...
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