Feb 21, 2020

Medea (1988)

For all of my cinephiliac life, I have been pondering whether or not I think Danish auteur Lars von Trier (Europa, Melancholia)—undoubtedly one of the most interesting and relatively original filmmakers of the post-Fassbinder age—is a great artist, determined dilettante, and/or a downright fraud that simply thrives on trolling in a super sophisticated way and not much more. While I find that Howard Hampton tends to be an obnoxious writer that is oftentimes absurdly wrong, if not downright delusional, in his assertions, I could not help by agree with him when he argued in an essay featured in the writing compilation Born in Flames: Termite Dreams, Dialectical Fairy Tales, and Pop Apocalypses (2007) that, “There’s something about Lars von Trier’s prodigiously assured films that elicits indignation, as though their labyrinthine descents into the undermined of movie history were affronts to the sanctity of cinema itself.” Indeed, there’s oftentimes something unbearably insufferable about von Trier’s seemingly ambivalent, if not autistic, cinemania, as if the auteur enjoys nothing more than giving himself—and only himself—an extravagant masturbatory massage to his own cinephilia while presuming the viewer is just not on his passive-aggressively megalomaniacal level, but this is not the only problem with much of his work. After all, with his various patently pretentious manifesto/declarations—most of which are a rather loathsome combination of pretension and utter meaninglessness—and curiously drastic changes in style, it is hard not to assume that von Trier is terribly bored with cinema and that he is now mainly just engaging in a self-satisfying game of covert cinematic onanism and that he does not even take his own work that seriously, hence my suspicion that much of what he does is, at best, artistically prestigious displays of trolling and, at worst, completely emotionally counterfeit con-jobs. While von Trier even demonstrated a certain aesthetic aptitude as a child with shorts like Why Try to Escape from Which You Know You Can't Escape from? Because You Are a Coward (1970)—a film that briefly appears in The House That Jack Built in a somewhat cryptic (and ultimately incriminating) fashion that connects the auteur's childhood to that of the eponymous serial killer—his Weltanschauung has always been weak, shallow, and seemingly disingenuous, as if it would be too much of a struggle for the auteur to reveal anything about himself aside from being a morbidly depressed degenerate that makes superficial (meta)political statements because he lacks the capacity to commit to anything aside from acting like a little twat. 

 If I were to judge Herr von Trier on his latest feature The House That Jack Built (2018)—a mostly sorry Socratic serial killer flick where the auteur merely rehashes his old tricks and does for the art of murder what he did for sex in NYMPH()MANIAC (2013), albeit to a noticeably considerably less ambitious degree—I would certainly have to go with artistic fraud. After all, von Trier, who was clearly spiritually castrated after his ostensibly infamous 2011 Cannes press conference incident where he made some benign Nazi jokes, even decided to sell his soul to promote the film by following the insipid script of the Hollywood mainstream and declaring without even the slightest hint of irony, “THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT celebrates the idea that life is evil and soulless, which is sadly proven by the recent rise of the Homo trumpus – the rat king.” While Trump has certainly proved himself to be a Zionist shabbos goy stooge of sorts that talks big yet not has accomplished a single one of the nationalistic promises he originally campaigned on, von Trier, in his clear political retardation, has clearly revealed he is completely drunk on the cashmere commie Kool-Aid by expressing sentiments worthy of dumb twats like Alyssa Milano despite once being the provocative enfant terrible that directed truly subversive films like Manderlay (2005), which does a brilliant job exposing the hyper hypocrisy, racial fetishism, and disgusting disingenuous of white leftist women like Milano.  In that sense, von Trier is undoubtedly more like Trump than he would like to think as they are both supreme bullshitters that talk big but really have no strong principles aside from stroking their own ludicrously inflated egos.  Of course, whereas Trump has the insipid spirit of a fat fuck drag queen, von Trier is like a depressed emo girl that just wishes her parents would at least notice the superficial wounds on her wrist from another failed phony suicide attempt.

Rather intriguingly, even when he still wrongly believed that he was Jewish during the early part of his filmmaking career, von Trier dared to depict a Nazi in a sympathetic light in Befrielsesbilleder (1982) aka Images of Liberation, thus one has to question his motivations which seem to be nothing more than a childish desire to provoke as if he has a pathological self-destructive need to be a twat. Featuring totally tasteless torture porn scenes that are clearly a cheap immature attempt by the auteur at shock value (when he’s already done much more maturely shocking scenes in previous films), crappy CGI imagery worthy of some shitty C grade video game, Elvis Presley’s borderline homely granddaughter having her tits chopped off, and von Trier arguably revealing his own petty resentment of handsome masculine American men by having Matt Dillon portraying a psychopathic serial killer (while also arguably attempting to live vicariously through said character despite his typical tendency towards living vicariously through bat-shit-crazy female characters, hence why the film does not work), The House That Jack Built is ultimately a pointless film where the auteur tries in vain to attempt to say about life and its supposed evil banality what Emil Cioran already said more intelligently and elegantly many decades before. Of course, I have other reasons for thinking the film is an exceedingly empty piece of shit that cannot be saved by the shock of butchered tits and dead children, as I have been recently revisiting von Trier’s earlier films and cannot help but notice the difference in terms of aesthetic maturity back when the filmmaker had more of a legitimate reason to consider himself the cinematic heir of fellow Danish auteur Carl Theodor Dreyer. 

 In fact, von Trier was so arrogant about seeing himself as a sort of new Dreyer that he once dared to cinematically adapt the master auteur’s unused screenplay adaptation of Euripides' play Medea, thereupon forever linking himself to his artistically superior cinematic countryman. Luckily (and somewhat surprising), the film is one of the filmmaker’s soberest and most aesthetically alluring, ambitious, and successfully experimental cinematic works to date, as if even a total troll like von Trier realized it would be nothing short of cinematic sacrilege to defile Dreyer with his typical masturbatory digressions and apathetic cinephiliac references. In fact, Medea (1988) looks, in many ways, as old as the long-dead director that inspired it despite being plagued by an anachronism or two in regard to the wardrobe, as if the film was recently discovered in an ancient bottle on some remote island for future generations to discover. As to why the film has such a distinct ‘timeless’ quality that seems to even transcend cinema history, Jack Stevenson explained in his book Lars Von Trier (2002) in regard to the auteur’s filmmaking method, “He shot the film on ¾-inch video tape, readjusted color and light, transferred it to 35mm film and then copied it back to 1-inch video tape. The result of this laborious experimental process was a train of images that seemed on the verge of dissolving in murk and graininess. The classic dialogue, sounding a bit inappropriate in Danish, was then laid on post-sync.” Aside from the somehow strangely enthralling Boardinghouse (1982)—supposedly the first shot-on-video horror flick ever made—I cannot think of many films that were shot on archaic video and then blown up to 35mm film, but somehow von Trier manages to make this work as Medea, quite unlike the director's Dogme 95 flicks, looks more ancient and archetypal then artificial and artless. 

 While it is no surprise that von Trier wanted to pay tribute to Dreyer—his nation’s unequivocal cinematic master and a filmmaker that he has routinely quoted throughout his career—the genesis of the film is somewhat less personal. Originally planned by the Danish TV channel DR-TV in 1985 as a fairly normal adaptation of Euripides' play, von Trier did not even get involved in the project until after the original director Søren Iversen quit the production and the auteur was offered the project. Of course, von Trier completely changed the project and basically started from scratch, or as Stevenson explained, “Instead of faithfully adapting Euripides’ tragedy for the screen, he chose to use Carl Th. Dreyer’s script of the same name which the director had written in 1965-6 but had never found financing for. Dreyer’s script was not a straightforward adaptation of Euripides’ play, but rather an attempt to re-create the original story which might have inspired Euripides. Von Trier’s film, in turn, as he states in the prologue, was not an attempt to make Dreyer’s film, but rather was his personal interpretation of the manuscript. In any case, MEDEA was not purely based on von Trier’s own material, and this was exceptional.” Undoubtedly, von Trier’s film is about as far away from The House That Jack Built as far as artistic and ideological purity is concerned as it mostly rings emotionally true, does not wallow in the provocative for provocative’s sake, and arguably has the most seemingly organic and timeless aesthetic of all of the auteur’s films. Despite this, the film received mixed reviews (that leaned towards the majority being negative) from Danish film critics and von Trier has himself criticized various aspects of the film.  Indeed, only Danish filmmaker and film scholar Christian Braad Thomsen—a personal friend of Rainer Werner Fassbinder that has paid tribute to his cocksucking kraut comrade with both a great book and documentary—seems to have realized the film's virtual genius.

 Notably, von Trier had nil interested in Euripides’ play and was merely obsessed with paying tribute to his filmic forefather, or as the auteur explained to Stig Björkman in Trier on von Trier (1999), “The subject didn’t fascinate me at all! I’ve never been interested in classical drama. I was more interested that it was something Dreyer had been involved with.” Yet, according to Jonathan Rosenbaum—one of the few American film critics worth reading—von Trier’s film is far from an even remotely faithful adaptation. Indeed, as Rosenbaum explained in a brief September 1997 review, “Pay no attention to the claims that this 1988 Danish video feature by Lars von Trier (BREAKING THE WAVES) is a faithful or even remotely respectful realization of the late Carl Dreyer’s unrealized script, cowritten by poet Preben Thomsen. For starters, the Dreyer script, based only loosely on the Euripides tragedy, features a chorus that is omitted here, its lines grotesquely converted into printed titles when they aren’t simply dropped; many of Dreyer’s scenes are eliminated, scrambled, or placed elsewhere in the overall continuity, and some of von Trier’s scenes and sequences are strictly his own invention. That said, this is well worth seeing as a visually inventive and highly dramatic version of the Medea story, with strong performances by Kirsten Olesen and Udo Kier. In some respects it’s as striking as anything von Trier has done, but Dreyer could never have accepted this florid piece of showmanship as even a remote approximation of his intentions.” While Rosenbaum review is mostly favorable, he would later take a much harsher view of the film in his anti-Trier/anti-Trump diatribe ‘“Sad!”: Why I Won’t Watch Antichrist’ featured in the compilation Unwatchable (2019) where he somewhat venomously argues, “…my opinion of the filmmaker himself steadily plummeted as I saw the postmodernist hash he was making out of my favorite filmmaker (and his alleged role model) Carl Dreyer […] MEDEA claims to be based on Dreyer and Preben Thomsen’s unrealized screenplay adapting the Euripides tragedy, but reading the Dreyer text is all that’s needed to expose von Trier as something of a con artist.” Of course, to truly respect von Trier as he really is and not have any deluded expectations, one must accept that he is a sneering con artist, albeit a very talented and aesthetically enterprising one who, rather unfortunately, is unquestionably one of the most interesting filmmakers working today.  Undoubtedly, Medea is arguably most notable in that one forgets while watching it that it was directed by film history's foremost #1 troll, so it does not surprise me that von Trier himself is not fond of the flick, as if it pains him to be reminded that he exposed too much of himself by not succumbing to the temptation towards shock value and dark irony.

 Although Rosenbaum complains that von Trier excised a supposed ‘radical feminist’ subtext from Dreyer’s script, it would be absurdly deluded to somehow see von Trier as more ‘right wing’ than Dreyer. After all, despite directing subversive cinematic works like Michael (1924)—a silent film with fairly blatant gay themes—and having a troubled childhood as the adopted bastard son of a Scanian maid that he never got to know, Dreyer was a lifelong right-winger that once stated, “Even when I was with Ekstrabladet, I was conservative...I don't believe in revolutions. They have, as a rule, the tedious quality of pulling development back. I believe more in evolution, in the small advances.” As the product of insanely deluded commie nudists, including a Jewish (step)father and self-described “whore” mother that let him do whatever he wanted to as a kid, von Trier hardly received any discipline as a child, let alone, a sort of traditional pre-counterculture Danish upbringing involving Christian teachings and a traditional upbringing, so it is only natural that he would dedicate his filmmaking career to virtually ‘acting out’ like a debauched problem child that, not matter what he does, still cannot get the attention he craves from his self-absorbed and drug-addled parents. Of course, this is why von Trier can never be great like his hero Dreyer as he still has the emotional maturity of a teenager and, as Rosenbaum noted, has glaring maniac-depressive tendencies, which is a good way to describe the behavior of the titular anti-heroine of Medea who, as a scorned cunt that cannot believe she was tricked by a man, decides that the most despicable of revenges is more important than the lives of her two young sons. While Rosenbaum has complained of von Trier’s excising of Dreyer’s ostensible radical feminist subtext, there is no question that the auteur sympathizes with the titular (anti)heroine as her husband is portrayed as an arrogant and idiotic fool that more or less gets what he deserves, at least in the oftentimes hysterical director’s mind. 

 As a stripped-down adaptation of Medea that was further stripped-down by the director from Dreyer’s original screenplay, von Trier's film naturally contains a very simple storyline, but of course the film is, not unlike F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)—another film that manages to create a great sense of the foreboding via foggy wetlands—largely notable due to its singular aesthetic approach and atmosphere. While the eponymous lead is technically not in every scene and we briefly encounter the perspective of other characters, the film is largely an uncompromising tribute to Medea’s lovelorn anguish and pathos as a brutal bipolar bitch the opts to destroy her virtual entire world and all those that wronged her once she discovers that her husband—a man whose dubious intellect is, unfortunately for him, totally overpowered by his ambition and arrogance—has betrayed her. While scant on dialogue, the film is inordinately quotable in a thankfully non-Hollywood-esque fashion as virtually every single word carries heavy meaning and manages to completely expose the essence of each character, which is rather fitting in a moody little art movie where the actors move around with a certain slow somnambulistic intrigue as if von Trier was attempting to reconcile the very different acting methods of Robert Bresson and Ingmar Bergman. Indeed, from the carefully stylized acting to the amount of fog in the area, every aspect of the film seems perfectly calculated in a cinematic work that basks in the intentionally imperfect—whether it be character, cinematic technique, or historical accuracy. 

 To von Trier’s credit, he makes his intentions perfectly clear at the very beginning of the film in an inter-title where he declares: “This film is based on a script by Carl Th. Dreyer and Preben Thomsen after Euripides’ drama MEDEA. Carl Th. Dreyer never realized his script. This is not an attempt to make his film, but due with reverence, a personal interpretation and homage to the master.” From there, we are introduced to Medea (Kirsten Olesen) as she meditatively marinates in a shallow pool of water on the shore as she grasps at the sand beneath as the tide begins to cover her as she is on the brink of some sort of life-changing psychological break. As another inter-title then reads: “Jason built his vessel Argo and sailed to Colchis to fetch the Golden Fleece which he won with the help of Medea, the beautiful and wise, who gave him her love. Her love has now turned to hatred. Jason betrays Medea and the two sons she has borne him. Together they fled from Colchis and arrived in Corinth as outlaws. Medea left her distant country. Jason left her here.” Indeed, a powerful, albeit somewhat evil, woman that practices the dark arts, Medea sacrificed everything for her selfish husband Jason (Udo Kier in probably the most ‘butch’ role of his career) and even plopped out two sons for him in the process but he’s already decided to throw everything away because he has an unquenchable thirst for power and the female protagonist has no place in his future life.

Unfortunately for virtually all parties concerned, King Creon of Corinth (Henning Jensen) wants to secure his throne and he decides to do this by having his beloved daughter Glauce (Ludmilla Glinska)—a rather nubile dame that enjoys exposing her unclad body, as if she sincerely believes that she is god's great gift to humanity—marry powerful warrior and hero Jason. To add insult to injury, King Creon banishes Medea and her sons from his kingdom because he is rightly afraid that she will use her evil powers to get revenge against him and his daughter. Unfortunately for him, King Creon naively agrees to give Medea one day to get her affairs in order before she leaves, thus giving her enough time to perfectly plot her rather ruthless revenge. Needless to say, Medea is success as she not only kills King Creon and his daughter, but also brutally hangs both her sons so that Jason will live with the pain and shame for eternity. Before hatching her pernicious plot, Medea secures her getaway by agreeing to help King Aegeus of Athens (Baard Owe) with family infertility problems. In the end, Jason loses everything and seemingly suffers a mental breakdown while Medea—a hard bitch that rarely expresses any emotions—weeps while sailing away on King Aegeus’ ship after exposing her hair for the first time in the film as if self-induced grief is the only scenario where she can express her sense of femininity. In short, everyone loses at the conclusion of this brutal tragedy, especially Medea, hence the vicious circle that accompanies being a bipolar bitch. 

 While the characters in Medea do not say much, the very few words that are expressed certainly reveal a certain mutual disappointment when it comes to the opposite sex and biology. For example, while the mother of two boys, Medea is not very proud of her ability to give life and even proclaims she would prefer the life of a warrior to the womb, stating, “I’d rather bleed behind a shield than bearing a man’s children.” As for Jason, he seems willing to forsake women altogether, declaring, “If only men could have children without the agency of women.” Certainly the sort of cold cunt that would give her son autism due to her lack of nurturing qualities, Medea—an assumed closet-romantic—seems to have only had children out of her love for Jason, hence her proclivity towards prolicide. In fact, Medea hints at such a motivation when she declares, “There is no greater sorrow than love,” especially after coming to the bitter conclusion that her husband’s “only ambition was to be the king’s son-in-law.” To Medea’s credit, Jason is such a cowardly self-absorbed piece-of-shit that he dares to proclaim to the heroine that his betrayal was done to benefit her and their children, thereupon also insulting her intelligence in the process. When Jason declares to her, “Your pride is your misfortune,” one cannot help but sympathize with Medea when she replies, “And your pride, Jason…is your good fortune. My weakness and blindness led me to encourage your vanity. You want it to look as if I have left you. You are betraying your own children.” In the end, both parents not only betray their own children, but fall victim to their own pride, thereupon causing mostly relative innocents to die in the end. Undoubtedly, if there is anything that one can learn from the film, it is that no one in a relationship is innocent as shitty people tend to choose shitty partners.  Additionally, Medea and Jason are the couple from hell and it is almost fitting that the former executes sort of post-birth abortions by killing her son as if to rid the world of their demonic genes. 

 Notably, as the decades have passed since the film's over thirty years ago, auteur Lars von Trier has had very few good things to say about Medea. For example, in Trier on von Trier he confesses, “. . . I don’t feel very happy with the film. I think that’s because of all that Viking crap that I never really got a grip on. No matter what you do with things like this, the result is always a sort of fancy-dress party. It’s bloody difficult to get it to look at all sensible. I don’t think we’ve really got enough distance to all this Viking business. But when you look at what Kurosawa does with similar things, it looks impressive. Like THE SEVEN SAMURAI. But if you look at the film more closely, you can see that the helmets they’re wearing are terribly badly made. Maybe Kurosawa thought his films were insubstantial. But both time and geographic distance have eroded that, so you go along with it.” Aside from being someone that has always considered Kurosawa’s films, especially The Seven Samurai, to be absurdly overrated, it is easier for me to embrace the ‘period costumes’ in von Trier’s film than in big budget pseudo-prestige TV bullshit like Game of Thrones (2011-2019) and Vikings (2013-current) where mostly candy ass modern actors preposterously pretend to be medieval bad asses.  Not surprisingly, at the end of the same interview, von Trier would ultimately sum up his feelings about the film as follows, “MEDEA doesn’t say much to me these days. It’s got some nice scenes, but only on a superficial level. MEDEA was possibly a precursor to BREAKING THE WAVES in some of its usage of melodramatic form.” Of course, Breaking the Waves (1996) suffers from contrived pseudo-Dreyer-esque flourishes, an absurdly off-putting utilization of pop music, and a ridiculous pseudo-transcendental ending that completely contradicts the film’s entire tone. Personally, it is somewhat hard for me to take von Trier’s opinion of his own work completely seriously as he apparently regards Epidemic (1987)—an abortive mess of a movie of the masturbatory metacinematic sort—as his ‘personal favorite’ of his films while distancing himself from most of his other fair superior early films like his debut feature The Element of Crime (1984). I think what separates Medea from much of von Trier’s oeuvre is that, out of respect for Dreyer, von Trier demonstrated some sensible restraint for the first (and probably last) time in his filmmaking career and did not succumb to the seemingly self-destruction compulsion towards juvenile troll tactics. In that sense, it is arguably the auteur’s most subversive and idiosyncratic work to date and von Trier's sort of equivalent to David Lynch's The Straight Story (1999) as an understated oddity in the filmmaker's oeuvre that benefits from a sort of quasi-Bressonian simplicity. 

 Of course, von Trier is not the first filmmaker to tackle the timeless Ancient Greek tragedy of Medea, which is a myth that, in general, seems to appeal to more experimental and subversive filmmakers. In fact, von Trier is not even the most subversive or iconoclastic auteur to adapt it as Dutch auteur Frans Zwartjes—undoubtedly one of the most idiosyncratic filmmakers that has ever lived—directed a rarely-seen minimalistic version simply titled Medea (1982) where two actresses play all the roles.  Taking the tragedy to a totally different extreme, fellow Dutch auteur Theo van Gogh’s posthumously released six-episode miniseries Medea (2005) updates the story for the degenerate world of Dutch democratic politics. Arguably even more unconventional than Zwartjes' film, obscure Italian female experimental filmmaker Pia Epremian's Medea (1969) seems like the sort of film the eponymous anti-heroine might directed if she was a full-blown schizophrenic. In subversive guido auteur Marco Ferreri’s delectably debauched The Story of Piera (1983) aka Storia di Piera—one of the Italian filmmaker's countless criminally overlooked films—great frog mischling beauty Isabelle Huppert portrays a young girl that learns to play the role of Medea in high school and later plays the role as adult actress in a particularly perversely preternatural film that, among other things, features the novelty of borderline mother-daughter incest, among other things. Of course, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Medea (1969) starring Greek-American opera diva Maria Callas as the brilliantly cast titular lead is probably the greatest and most revered adaptation of the Greek tragedy. Personally, in terms of sheer rewatchability, I prefer von Trier’s version despite my perennial mixed feelings about its auteur and my general preference for Pasolini over the Danish auteur. 

 Notably, von Trier himself seriously doubts that his Dreyer tribute is actually Dreyer-esque as demonstrated by his words, “The film was supposed to be a bit Dreyerish. I felt very connected to his aesthetic. But a lot of the film is too insubstantial. And we had that model of the Viking castle where Medea lived. I can’t stand that sort of thing. It looked terrible. The problem was that the budget didn’t let us film the whole thing on location. We came up with several Fellini-style solutions instead.” I have no idea what von Trier is alluding to as Medea is one of the least Fellini-esque films that I have ever seen, but I digress. As far as Dreyer’s influence, Medea has an almost fiercely foggy oneiric and ominous essence that is vaguely comparable to Dreyer’s truly nightmarish masterpiece Vampyr (1932). As far as the eponymous heroine’s passion and pathos are concerned, von Trier’s film sometimes feels like a sort of apocalyptic nod to The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) with strands of Gertrud (1964).

Not surprisingly, Jonathan Rosenbaum is less convinced of Dreyer’s influence and sees the film as being more Wellesian, or as he stated in his review, “In fact, apart from patches of Dreyer’s dialogue, MEDEA is not at all like Dreyer, occasionally a bit like Ingmar Bergman, and mostly like Orson Welles — the Welles, that is, of MACBETH and OTHELLO. I hasten to add that the two films have very different styles, starting with the studio sets and long takes of MACBETH and the disparate ‘found’ locations and splintered montage of OTHELLO. But von Trier, like many a postmodernist music-video maestro, never lets stylistic consistency get in the way of his stockpile of effects. Insofar as there’s any kind of dramatic logic at all, Medea is usually framed like Lady Macbeth in MACBETH and Jason (Udo Kier) like Othello in OTHELLO.” Indeed, von Trier’s Medea is quite comparable to Welles’ pleasantly peculiar adaptations of classic Western texts as experimental and even borderline avant-garde takes on these all-too-familiar stories that bring new lifeblood to the narratively necrotic. Not unlike Welles’ Shakespeare adaptations Macbeth (1948), Othello (1951), and Chimes at Midnight (1965), Medea does what great cinema should do by adding something to the ancient tragedy that could never be accomplished in theater or any other medium. Of course, the fact that the film features very little dialogue yet is atmospherically hypnotic throughout underscores this fact in terms of cinema's artistic singularity. 

 Whereas Medea is big on aesthetic and sparse on words, von Trier’s later celebrated ‘USA – Land of Opportunities’ trilogy films Dogville (2003) and Manderlay (2005) are absurdly aesthetically barren and overly talky as if the auteur went through a nihilistic Godardian phase where he was obsessed with destroying cinema. Indeed, these two films (the projected third and final film in the trilogy, Washington, has yet to enter production) are not much more than glorified filmed theater where von Trier virtually attempts to duplicate what Fassbinder did with his somewhat experimental obscure TV plays Das Kaffeehaus (1970) aka The Coffee Shop, Bremer Freiheit (1972) aka Bremen Freedom, Nora Helmer (1974), and Frauen in New York (1977) aka Women in New York. While it is only natural that Fassbinder would direct such films due to his theater background and experience as both an actor and playwright, von Trier has always been most focused on cinematic technique and cultivating a distinct aesthetic, thus Dogville and Manderlay seem like expressions of a tired old auteur with a contempt for cinema who has gotten incredibly bored with the medium and I say that as someone that finds these to films to be somewhat enjoyable. Of course, Medea and Dogville have one very important thing in common in that they conclude in a rather incriminating way that reveals von Trier’s sort of feminine rage. Indeed, while his latest failed film The House That Jack Built plays out like some murder fantasy fetish piece, it does not ring true the way Medea does where a hypnotically harrowing deluge of resentment, hatred, and misanthropy spills out in the end, thus it is quite fitting that the titular heroine begins the film lying in water as the tide begins to engulf her body. Naturally, considering von Trier’s recent uncharacteristic affliction of Trump Derangement Syndrome, I would not be surprised if he came out as gender fluid or even followed in the step of his virtual artistic nemeses, Wachowski brothers, and came out as an a full-blown autogynephile. Indeed, it is probably no coincidence that von Trier’s greatest films like Medea and Antichrist (2009) involve crazy cunts that make men miserable, especially since the auteur is himself a crazy cunt that likes to make men miserable.

Undoubtedly, it is somewhat ironic that von Trier's anti-Trump turd The House That Jack Built is largely is largely about death, as it feels like the creation of someone that believes in nothing and is totally afraid of death and the uncertainty that surrounds it, especially if one considers things that von Trier has said in the past.  Indeed, demonstrating once again that Dreyer is surely one of his most imperative influences, von Trier stated in a manner that even almost borders on nationalist pride, “...people are always sacrificing themselves completely in Dreyer's films—and in mine.  It must be a particularly Danish characteristic!  So what can we say about sacrifice? [...] someone who sacrifices himself or herself is at least giving their existence some sort of meaning—if you can see a meaning in doing something for others, for an idea, a belief.  The characters in these films are struggling to bring meaning to their time on earth.  It must feel easier to die if you're doing it for something you believe in.”  Of course, as a clearly intelligent and oftentimes iconoclastic individual, von Trier reveals that he believes in nothing, especially sacrifice, when he parrots retarded conformist anti-Trump twaddle and he will probably never become a true cinematic master until he dares to direct a film that he is willing to sacrifice his life—or some aspect of his life—for.  After all, at least with Medea he at least sacrificed his ego and exposed a certain vulnerability that he has yet to duplicate in any of his other films, hence the source of its striking emotional potency.  After all, I cannot think of another film where I managed to feel sympathy for a sick evil bitch that kills her own children whereas I could not wait for the painfully banal and pedantic serial killer fuck in The House That Jack Built to die so I would not listen to his pathetic pseudo-philosophical pontificating anymore.

-Ty E

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