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File:Melancholia 5054.jpg

Melancholia is a 2011 Speculative Fiction film written and directed by Lars von Trier. It mainly focuses on the relationship between the two sisters Justine and Claire, played by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. The movie is divided into two parts, the first about the Justine's wedding, the second about the upcoming fly-by of the rogue planet Melancholia that's drifting through the solar system. The focus lies on how the characters relate to the events surrounding them, from the mundane event of a wedding to the possibility of a planetary collision.

Like Von Trier's previous movie, Melancholia was surrounded by some consternation at the Cannes Film Festival. Von Trier's jokes about Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany resulted in him being declared a persona non grata. Dunst's performance was praised, however, and she walked away with the Best Actress Award.

Tropes used in Melancholia include:


  • Alien Sky: Once Melancholia appears in the sky, things turn eerie.
  • Apocalyptic Montage: The movie opens with a dramatic montage depicting events leading up to the collision.
  • Art Shift: The opening montage is shot in extreme slow motion, with extremely stylized imagery. The rest of the film is photographed normally.
  • Artistic Licence Astronomy: Von Trier has mentioned he was never interested in depicting the astronomical events accurately. In a nutsell: Melancholia couldn't have hidden behind the sun without being visible for very long, it couldn't have concealed Arcturus for more than a few moments, it couldn't have done flybys of three solar system objects in a row, and it certainly could not do a U-turn in empty space to hit Earth.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Claire stashes away a bottle of pills should the worst come to pass. Her husband scoffs at her for this. He ends up up using them first.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: "Is everyone in your family stark raving mad?"
  • Blessed with Suck: Von Trier basically explores the idea how people with depression can function better than other under certain circumstances.
  • Book Ends: The opening montage shows Earth crashing into Melancholia. The movie ends with a view from the surface.
  • The Cassandra: Justine.
  • Colony Drop: Earth eventually smashes into the much larger Melancholia.
  • Cosmic Plaything: As recognized by Justine.
  • Counter-Earth
  • Crapsack World

 Justine: The Earth is evil. We don't need to grieve for her.

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied when Justine is bathing in Melancholia's light.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Justine has hers during her wedding, where she completely breaks down. Claire has hers when she realizes the Earth is doomed. John as well.
  • Dirty Old Man: Justine and Claire's father, played by John Hurt, shamelessly hits on two younger women for the entire wedding. His note implies that he ditched his daughter to go sleep with one of them.
  • Downer Ending: Trier himself taglined the film with "No more happy endings!" That's saying something!
  • Deuteragonist: Either Claire or Justine.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom
  • Emotionless Girl: Justine slowly falls apart during her wedding. In the bathtub she is almost catatonic.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Claire is the normal, straight-laced one, while Justine is a manic-depressive and often cannot take care of herself.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Melancholia hits Earth.
  • Freudian Excuse: Justine may have inherited mental illness from her parents. Her mother is a bitter woman and her father is a lech who might be going senile.
  • Foreshadowing: The star Antares is no longer visible in the sky.
  • How We Got Here: The ending is shown in the opening montage so that the audience won't be distracted by whether or not Melancholia will hit the Earth.
  • Important Haircut / Expository Hairstyle Change: After the wedding, before going completely catatonic, Justine chops off her hair.
  • It Got Worse: In both parts of the movie: the wedding and the fly-by of Melancholia.
  • Kill'Em All
  • Let Them Die Happy: Justine offers one to her nephew when she suggests they'll be safe in a special shelter.
  • Melancholy Moon: Melancholia is this Turned Up to Eleven, especially to Justine.
  • Morality Pet: Justine's nephew to Justine.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Everyone in the film uses their natural accent, so it's not clear where the film takes place. Claire and Justine are sisters with British parents, but Dunst as Justine uses her American accent. She works for a Danish man who has a nephew with an American accent. The resort's butler is Danish and the wedding has a German planner. Claire is married to an American man and their child has an American accent.
  • Oh Crap: Claire's realisation that Melancholia is coming back around after its fly-by.
  • Right Through His Pants
  • Runaway Bride: Not so much running away as falling apart at the seams.
  • Running Gag: The wedding planner played by Udo Kier who shields Justine's face from his vision every time he passes by.
  • Sex for Solace: Justine with her boss's nephew.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Everybody dies and nobody resolves anything.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Basically the central focus of the movie. Further highlighted in that Justine is blonde and Claire has black hair.
  • Stepford Smiler: Justine at her wedding.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Justine and Claire's mom. She thinks everything about the wedding (including the guests, her family, and the very tradition of weddings) is stupid, and when she sneaks off to take a bath in the middle of the reception (coincidentally at the same time as Justine) she notes that (paraphrased) "I wasn't there for her first execration, I wasn't there for her first intercourse, and I don't need to be here for this". At one point Claire quietly wonders why she even came.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Justine.
  • Unable to Cry: Justine only starts to cry when she's comforting her nephew.
  • Weird Moon: Melancholia, again.
  • Write What You Know: Von Trier got the idea for the movie while being treated for depression. Kirsten Dunst had also suffered from depression prior to the movie.
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