Understanding Depression Through Art Film: Von Trier's 'Melancholia' College

A commonly reported symptom of clinical depression is a warped sense of time. Everything can feel like its moving in super slow motion. In fact, depression warps everything around it like a star warps space-time. Not only your sense of duration but also your sense of self and others. Your mental life is thrown out of proportion. In the film ‘Melancholia' the filmmaker Lars von Trier uses skewed proportions to communicate a feeling that he's intimately familiar with. When talking about the film, he said, “I can only write about myself and this is my description of my own depression” (Von Trier, 2011).

In the first scene after the slow-motion montage that speaks of warped time shows both the end of the film and the end of the world. The newly married Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) try to get from the ceremony to the reception. They are in a stretched limo that is almost comically too large for the country road that they are driving on. Eventually, they have to abandon the car and walk. By the time they get to the castle where the reception is, half of the night has already been wasted. What is interesting is that the audience doesn't really feel that lateness since we're only at the beginning of the...

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