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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

Chapter:
(p.111) Chapter 8 Melancholia and the Real of the Illusion
Source:
Real Deceptions
Author(s):

Jennifer Friedlander

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190676124.003.0009

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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