Date of Award

6-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Theater Arts

First Advisor

Anne Marie Fallon

Subjects

Melancholia (Motion picture) -- Criticism and interpretation, Lars von Trier (1956- ) -- Criticism and interpretation, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) -- Influence

DOI

10.15760/honors.99

Abstract

Danish director Lars von Trier’s film, Melancholia (2011) has been widely read as sadistic in its approach to viewers and nihilistic in its message. In this essay I compare elements of the film’s form and message to functions of tragedy explained by Friedrich Nietzsche mainly in his Birth of Tragedy, and also from his other works. I demonstrate how Melancholia is a complexly woven allegory of forms which incites dynamic emotional and cognitive embodied responses from viewers, which is perceived by them as a negative experience. I go on to demonstrate how von Trier is employing these methods to elicit a galvanizing engaged response from viewers that more accurately reflects Nietzsche’s explanations of the function of ancient Greek tragedy for the polis. This function is to combat nihilism, and is not based in sadism. Thus I argue that Melancholia, through subversive semiotic play between sound, style, and narrative, legitimizes, and embodies through form, Nietzschean assertions on the function of ancient Dionysian tragedy and Aesthetics for a justification of existence--and that assertions of nihilism in Melancholia are misreadings.

Comments

An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in University Honors and Film

The streaming version of the video thesis is available for viewing: https://media.pdx.edu/media/The+Birth+of+Tragedy+in+Lars+von+Trier%27s+%22Melancholia%22/0_h7inonzy/29662772

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/15668

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