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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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“Out Like a Lion”

“Out Like a Lion”

Melancholia with Euripides and Winnicott

(p.356) 16 “Out Like a Lion”
Politics, Theory, and Film

Bonnie Honig

Oxford University Press

This chapter treats von Trier’s Melancholia as a reception of Euripides’ Bacchae, a world-ending tragedy in which women leave their work to worship a hypnotic foreign god and are bewitched by strange visions of two suns. The focus here is on the youths—Leo, in von Trier’s film, and the young King Pentheus, in Euripides’ play. Both navigate their way through something like the doldrums of adolescence, a process that may involve violence, aggression, murder (of self, of other), and the renegotiation of identity. One of these two youths is a king whose death in Euripides’ play is the result of an act of regicide. Furthermore, D. W. Winnicott’s work on adolescence in particular invites a reconsideration of the Bacchae, which can enable us to likewise reconsider the politics of von Trier’s film.

Keywords:   Melancholia, Bacchae, Leo, Pentheus, adolescence, D. W. Winnicott

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