Melancholia (movie, 2011)

Melancholia is a dramatic film written and directed by Lars von Trier , released in 2011 .

The main characters are played by Kirsten Dunst , Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland . The story revolves around two sisters, one of them marrying while a gigantic planet nicknamed Melancholia is about to collide with Earth.

Lars von Trier’s original inspiration for making this film came from a depressive episode that he suffered, as well as an idea that melancholy people tend to be serene in a catastrophic event .

First presented in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2011 , this film was distinguished by the prize for female interpretation for Kirsten Dunst .



The prologue, built by still images then slowly set in motion, introduces the film, under the prelude of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde .

Chapter 1: Justine

On the occasion of their wedding, Justine ( Kirsten Dunst ) and Michael ( Alexander Skarsgård ) give a sumptuous reception in the home of Claire ( Charlotte Gainsbourg ), Justine’s sister, and John ( Kiefer Sutherland ), the very rich husband Claire. As family relationships deteriorate little by little and marriage breaks down, the planet Melancholia slowly approaches the Earth .

Chapter 2: Claire

Claire’s perception, at first diffuse, then increasing, that the end of the Earth may be terribly close. How to live with the fear of seeing the world disappear? How to announce it to his 6 year old son?

Technical sheet

  • Title: Melancholia
  • Director: Lars von Trier
  • Scenario: Lars von Trier
  • Artistic direction: Simone Grau
  • Sets: Jette Lehmann
  • Costumes: Manon Rasmussen
  • Photography: Manuel Alberto Claro  (en)
  • Editing: Molly Marlene Stensgaard , assisted by Morten Højbjerg
  • Special Effects Supervision: Peter Hjorth
  • Music: Prelude to Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner (for the main theme)
  • Production: Meta Louise Foldager and Louise Vesth  (de)
  • Production Companies: Zentropa , Memfis Film, Slot Machine, BIM Distribuzione and Trollhättan Film AB, in co-production with arte France Cinéma and funding assistance from Eurimages
  • Special Effects Companies: Dansk Speciel Effekt Service and Filmgate
  • Distribution Company: Nordisk Film
  • Country of origin: Denmark , Sweden , France , Germany , Italy and Spain
  • Original language: English
  • Budget: DKK 52.5 million ( $ 7 400 000 according to another estimate 1 )
  • Format: Colors – Dolby Digital
  • Genre: Drama , science fiction , disaster
  • Duration: 130 minutes
  • Release dates:
    • France :( Cannes Festival 2011 ); (national release)
    • Denmark :
    • Norway :
    • Poland :
    • Sweden :
    • Finland :
    • United Kingdom :
    • Netherlands :
    • Germany :


Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourgduring the presentation of the film at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival .
  • Kirsten Dunst (VF: Lola Pauwels) : Justine, nicknamed “Super Tatie” ( Aunt Steelbreaker ) by her nephew
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg (VF: herself ) : Claire, Justine’s sister
  • Kiefer Sutherland (VF: Thierry Hancisse ) : John, the very rich husband of Claire
  • Charlotte Rampling (VF: herself ) : Gaby, the mother of Justine and Claire
  • John Hurt (VF: Claude Lévêque) : Dexter, the father of Justine and Claire
  • Alexander Skarsgård (VF: Valentin Merlet ) : Michael, Justine’s promise
  • Stellan Skarsgård (VF: Jean-Yves Chatelais ) : Jack, boss of Justine, director of an advertising agency
  • Brady Corbet (VF: Florent Dorin ) : Tim, Jack’s nephew
  • Udo Kier (VF: Michel Voletti) : the organizer of the wedding
  • Jesper Christensen (VF: Gilbert Beugniot ) : “Little Father”
  • Cameron Spurr (VF: Nahil Rey) : Leo, son of Claire and John, nephew of Justine
Source and captionFrench version (VF) on the site of AlterEgo (the dubbing company 2 ) and according to the dubbing board.

Around the film

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  • Before choosing Kirsten Dunst , Lars von Trier had proposed the main role of the film to Penélope Cruz . This one however refused it to go to turn in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Fountain of Youth 3 .
  • This film marks the return to the cinema of actors Kiefer Sutherland and Brady Corbet , who had starred in the 24-hour television series since 2006, in the respective roles of Jack Bauer and Derek Huxley.
  • After dedicating his previous film Antichrist to Andrei Tarkovsky , Lars von Trier indirectly refers to it by showing, during Melancholia’s early plans , the painting of Brueghel Chasseurs in the snow , which also appeared in the Solaris film .
  • This is the th time Lars von Trier allows one of its interpreters to get the Best Actress of Cannes Festival : Kirsten Dunst in 2011 after Björk in 2000 for Dancer in the Dark and Charlotte Gainsbourg in 2009 for Antichrist .


Tjolöholm Castle , Sweden , where part of the filming took place

Filming took place between July 22nd and1 . Interior scenes were shot in Trollhättan 4 , Sweden , at Film i Väst Studios, but also outdoors in and around Tjolöholm Castle . It was the fourth time that Lars von Trier had made a film in Trollhättan. Lars von Trier used his usual style without repetition; instead the actors partially improvised and received instructions between takes. Technically, Lars von Trier used a Phantom HD 5 camera. In the first part of the film, we can recognize a scenario similar to that of Festen. Indeed, we also find a family dinner in which certain statements or behaviors will lead to a disorder. Moreover, in the way of turning, we recognize the style of the current Dogme95 film initiated by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg .

Cannes Film Festival: controversy and reward

Lars von Trier meets Charlotte Gainsbourg after Antichrist in 2009, for which the French actress received the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival . Kirsten Dunst receives, for Melancholia , the same award at the Cannes Film Festival 2011 and allows the film to be on the list despite the controversy affecting the director after some of his statements held at a press conference: as a result of a question about his German origins (which he discovered when his mother died in 1989 6 ), Lars von Trier says about Hitler :”I say that I understand the man. He’s not really a good guy, but […] I feel a little bit with him ” . He adds, “I think he did bad things. […] I am not for the second world war, I am not against the Jews. I’m with the Jews of course, but not too much … because Israel is really pissing off . ” Realizing the ambiguity of his words, he announces “I do not know how I will get out of this sentence” before concluding in an embarrassed laugh: “OK I am a Nazi” 7 . These comments also follow a recent interview in which he confessed his “taste for Nazi aesthetics” and especially for Albert Speer 8, on which he also returned to Cannes, saying: “Even though he may not have been one of the best creatures of God, he had the talent he was able to exert [thanks to the Nazi regime]” 8 .

Shortly after the conference, he issued a statement of apologies: “If I was able to hurt someone by what I said this morning, I sincerely apologize. I am neither anti-Semitic, nor racist, nor Nazi ” 8 . The direction of the festival informed turn in a statement that the filmmaker has “been led to provocation” 8 . The press quickly seizes controversial remarks of the Danish director and diffuses extracts without always contextualize them 7 . The following day, despite the apologies of Lars von Trier, the festival management declares him ” persona non grata “, while leaving his film Melancholia in competition 9. While repeating his apology, Lars von Trier accepted the decision saying “proud to have been declared persona non grata ” 10 , noting that “this may be the first time in film history that product » 10 . He explained at length that he only wished to show a deliberately shocking humor, regretting that it was misinterpreted 10 . He also stressed that he considers the Holocaust as “the worst crime ever” 10 . Finally, he said that his interest in the Nazi aesthetic was not related to any political conviction 10 .


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  • Cannes Film Festival 2011 : Best Actress Award for Kirsten Dunst
  • 2011 : European Awards for Best Film, Best Photography and Best Sets
  • 2012: Best Foreign Film Award from the French Syndicate of Film Critics
  • 2012: Robert for Best Danish Film , Best Director and Best Screenplay

Notes and references

  1. ↑ a and b (in) Box office / business for Melancholia (2011) ”  [ archive ] , on (accessed May 4, 2011 )
  2. ↑ “VF dubbing sheet of the film”  [ archive ] on , accessed June 15, 2013
  3. ↑ Maroussia Dubreuil, ” The Wheel of Fortune – Penelope Cruz ,” So Film No. 38 ,p.  15
  4. ↑ (in) Filming locations for Melancholia (2011) ”  [ archive ] , on (accessed 4 2011 May )
  5. ↑ ” Technical specifications for Melancholia (2011) ”  [ archive ] , on (accessed May 4, 2011 )
  6. ↑ ” Lars von Trier sympathizes with Hitler ”  [ archive ] , on , (accessed May 20, 2011 )
  7. ↑ a and b Cannes: we calm down, we drink fresh and we forget Lars … ”  [ archive ] , on ,(accessed May 20, 2011 )
  8. ↑ a , b , c and d Lars von Trier and Hitler  [ archive ] ,
  9. ↑ “Lars von Trier fired from the Cannes Film Festival”  [ archive ] ,
  10. ↑ a , b , c , d and e « Cannes 2011: Lars von Trier, the provocateur, proud to be persona non grata!  ”  [ Archive ] , on , (accessed May 20, 2011 )

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