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Politics, Theory, and FilmCritical Encounters with Lars von Trier$
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Bonnie Honig and Lori J. Marso

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600181

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600181.001.0001

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Evils of Representation in Europa and Melancholia

Evils of Representation in Europa and Melancholia

(p.285) 13 Evils of Representation in Europa and Melancholia
Politics, Theory, and Film

Joshua Foa Dienstag

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that von Trier’s response to the problem of evil and his cinematic style have evolved along with his views on representation. Once committed to the rejection of all cinematic illusion, his later films make use of it—not because he has changed his mind about the dangers of illusion, but because he has come to view an unnatural perspective as something necessary in order to reveal an evil to which we are ordinarily blind. This later style is herein referred to as “pessimistic realism.” In this light, the chapter focuses on two films in particular: Europa (1991) and Melancholia (2011). Both of these films grapple with the question of evil and the difficulty of seeing or representing it.

Keywords:   problem of evil, cinematic style, cinematic illusion, pessimistic realism, Europa, Melancholia

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