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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 November 2020

“I Know What Has to Happen”

“I Know What Has to Happen”

Tragedy, Mourning, and Melancholia in Medea

(p.336) 15 “I Know What Has to Happen”
Politics, Theory, and Film

Miriam Leonard

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how Medea (1988), von Trier’s version of Euripides’ play, engages with a modern politics of tragedy. In particular, it argues that von Trier uses the tragic script to explore questions of agency and sovereignty. Medea is a television adaptation based on a film script by Carl Theodor Dreyer—somehow retaining its tragic form despite von Trier’s professed disinterest in tragedy. By bringing von Trier into dialogue with Freud, Schmitt, and Kierkegaard, the chapter explores the dialectic between melancholia and responsibility that gives voice to his distinctive tragic politics. As such, von Trier both resists and embraces this tragic script and in the process reveals his insights into sovereignty and subjectivity.

Keywords:   Medea, modern tragedy, tragic politics, melancholia, responsibility, agency, sovereignty, subjectivity

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