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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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The Gravity of Melancholia

The Gravity of Melancholia

A Critique of Speculative Realism

(p.389) 17 The Gravity of Melancholia
Politics, Theory, and Film

Christopher Peterson

Oxford University Press

This chapter gives a reading of von Trier’s Melancholia with Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Gravity as a physical force and melancholia as a psychological force are compared and contrasted throughout; in both films, these two forces act unpredictably. In Melancholia, Justine, whose crippling depression weighs her down, is notably lifted out of her melancholia the closer a rogue planet careens toward Earth. In Gravity, Ryan Stone experiences a physical weightlessness that becomes utterly terrifying when the space shuttle she is attempting to repair is struck by satellite debris. Gravity and Melancholia both direct our attention toward the nonhuman things that inhabit our world, horizontalizing the relation between human and object—a preoccupation that has become a central theoretical concern due to the emergence of speculative realism.

Keywords:   Melancholia, Gravity, depression, physical gravity, object attachment, speculative realism

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