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Real DeceptionsThe Contemporary Reinvention of Realism$
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Jennifer Friedlander

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190676124

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190676124.001.0001

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Melancholia and the Real of the Illusion

Melancholia and the Real of the Illusion

(p.111) Chapter 8 Melancholia and the Real of the Illusion
Real Deceptions

Jennifer Friedlander

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Lars von Trier’s 2012 film, Melancholia, which tells the story of a profoundly depressed woman on the brink of the apocalypse. The film ends with its main characters huddled in terror as Earth is destroyed via a collision with rogue planet, Melancholia. It examines the film in terms of von Trier’s surprising statement that Melancholia contains the “happiest ending he’s ever made” and Slavoj Žižek’s declaration of Melancholia as a “profoundly optimistic” film. This chapter makes sense of these comments by arguing that the film offers insight into ways of living ethically in the face of utter loss. Such a possibility requires embracing the constitutive power of illusion.

Keywords:   Melancholia, Lars von Trier, melancholy, anxiety, disavowal, sexuation

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