Melancholia: Depression on Film

A commonly reported symptom of clinical depression is a warped sense of time. Everything can feel like it’s moving in super slow motion In fact, depression warps everything around it, like a star warps space-time. Not only your sense of duration, but also your sense of yourself and others. Your mental life is thrown out of all proportion. In his film “Melancholia”, Lars Von Trier uses skewed proportions to communicate a feeling that he’s intimately familiar with. Lars von Trier: “You know when I write, I can only write about myself,” Lars von Trier: “and this is more or less a description of my own depression.” The very first scene after the slow-motion montage that, speaking of warped time, shows both the end of the film and the end of the world, is the newly-married Justine and Michael trying to get from the ceremony to the reception in a stretch limo that is almost comically too large for the country road that they’re driving on. Eventually they have to abandon the car and walk and by the time they get to the castle where the reception is, half of the night has already been wasted. [I won’t even bother saying how late you are.] What’s interesting is that the viewer doesn’t really feel that lateness—we’re only at the beginning of the film. And this—I think– gives us a hint of the weird, almost dreamlike, temporal quality of the wedding reception to come. One thing that keeps getting stranger and stranger to me as I rewatch the film is the relationship between Justine and Michael. I mean, at times it almost seems as if they don’t even know each other; Michael seems to be completely unaware of the severity of Justine’s depression, and there are a few shots where Micheal just stares off blankly like a kind of dead puppet. Here again, things are skewed—Von Trier doesn’t give us a sense of the couple’s past. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first half of the film is made up of the wedding reception, alternating between the party and Justine’s various exits as she falls deeper and deeper into an oncoming bout of depression. Von Trier uses the reception itself to setup an expectation of continuous time, but Justine’s exits make this problematic. The two parts of the sequence don’t seem to fit together. Justine rides off in a golf cart all the way across the grounds, she languishes in the bath, but the party is always there, always still happening when she returns to it in moods that are increasingly detached. Even within the party time jumps forward at the whim of von Trier’s disorienting editing. The film critic Marta Figlerowicz drew my attention to the fact that — for example — the newlyweds first dance is actually a montage of Justine dancing with a number of people, While the song underneath it – La Bamba, plays continuously. What it all ads up to is unsettling feeling of subjectivity, A feeling that you’re in the head of Justine, and by extension von Trier’s, whose attempts to get a handle on things, to lock everything in place are upset and then finally dashed. No one in the film seems capable
of measuring things correctly, whether it’s the number of beans in a jar, [Two million and six beans] or the correct trajectory of a rogue planet. Everything that’s handled burns, creases or shatters And we ought to mention the several artistic references von Trier makes in the film, any of which are in the very first sequence. The most obvious is this shot which cites John Everett Millais “Ophelia” after the character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who is perhaps the most famous depressive in all of literature. Then we have an actual shot Bruegel’s ‘Hunters in the Snow’, a painting of hunters coming back to their village empty handed. Which calls to mind another science fiction film concerned with the depths of the soul: Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris”. Von Trier is a massive fan of Tarkovsky and there are other similarities here, too. Solaris, for example, makes great use of Bach’s “Choral Prelude in F Minor” repeating it throughout the film and as he’s written, Tarkovsky likes to use music as a refrain. “The refrain brigns us back to our first experience of entering that poetic world, making it immediate and at the same time renewing it.” Von Trier uses the same technique in Melancholia with Wagner’s “Prelude to Tristan and Isolde”, a romantic song that speaks to how the filmmaker mixes his meditation on depression with beauty, like a glowing blue planet, and desire. And there are plenty of other references too. Like those to Alain Resnais’ “Last Year at Marienbad” – another film with a dreamlike narrative structure. And of course these early shots jump forward to reference, but not exactly replicate, later moments in the film. Melancholia is no doubt a polarizing film. Its beauty is undeniable, but I’m sure many will argue that it lacks coherence or focus Indeed, I have my own problems with the second part of the film, but this is one of the most striking portrayals—to me— of a disease that affects so many but which is still so little understood. In my view, depression is what happens when your identity —that sense of the relationship you have with the world around you— becomes untethered, unfocused. In this process everything starts to skew. Time slows to a standstill. Your body once so easy to move feels like it weighs a ton. For a person memories start to become disorganized. The memories of a film, on the other hand are all those works of arts that inform and precede it. Perhaps this is why von Trier surrounds his characters with so many. By the time we get to the second half of the film an extraordinary situation—the approach of the rogue planet Melancholia, warps even the character’s dispositions: Justine emerging slowly from the depths of her illness reacts to the existential situation with calm. [the Earth is evil] [We don’t need to grieve for it] Claire on the other hand—her sane other half—begins to panic The film, in the end, takes on the disease of its main character. I, for one, am happy to see a film so earnest about sadness As it stands, science and medicine have come up short in their apprehension of mental illness. So maybe we ought to look to art for insights and solidarity about what it’s like, living a life out of proportion. Hey everybody, thanks for watching Sorry this video is a little bit late, I had a horrible stomach flu yesterday that was just destroying me. I feel much better now and I love this film. You know, i have certain problems with it, but I think there’s so much of value here and I love the opportunity to talk about depression and mental illness through the lens of a film like this. I hope you guys liked it.


  1. It used to a formal diagnosis "Melancholia" or Melancholic Depression. I'm a psych. nurse. You still see the term very occasionally

  2. The part where Justine and Claire's mother who was detached from her own emotions could heavily impacted the sisters, no wonder the sisters both have illnesses they're dealing with, consciously or unconsciously. Broken family with unapologetic parents. Claire also needed to be the savior as her response to probably growing up without much support from their parents and she kept doing that to Justine, however, Justine was stronger at the end because she actually knew how it would end and she was okay with it. Can tell it's a passion project 🙂

  3. This movie is NOT about depression. These people know that the end of the world is coming. So they act a certain way. When I saw the second act, i realized that I was manipulated by the title, and then the second act makes it clear, and everything that happened at the wedding changes color. They all know they are going to die. This movie takes you and your assumptions, and blows it up. This review is baloney, and clinical. It's not about depression, it's a weird way of showing what may affect you mental state. This guy reviewing thinks to much. It's quite simple. Yes they are depressed, but it about entertainment, messing with your mind.

  4. Idk it makes me feel like days just tether together. Everyone saying times moving so fast and if I go by my birthday number which is 24 I guess it has but it feels like it’s moving at snails pace, and it’s just a cycle of things moving but most don’t really matter.

  5. After an email from NASA, stated that a global event could take place, giving credence to the Mayan predictions of the end of time, I thought that even if these things did not occur, the mass hysteria and panic, that resulted, could be horrific. Melancholia allowed me to face the possibility of the end with grace and acceptance. Luckily they lived isolated in beautiful, peaceful, surroundings so they could avoid the global chaos. Only their own personal problems, dramas, attachments, and fears caused them sadness, grief, and terror. So, for me, my heart and mind became the beautiful environment of tranquility, every personal drama was set aside, and knowing that I was about to face the end alone gave me peace, in that I had no one to worry about, comfort or leave behind. This movie left me with courage and resolve to face whatever comes without worry, but with strength, fortitude, and care for others that I did not know. It was God's blessing that Melancholia played so often at that time, precisely the amount of times necessary to instill within me such lasting peace.

  6. I felt so bad for Alexander Skarsgård's Michael character, as he was a genuinely nice guy, loved her the Best he knew How & would have been a truly good/loyal husband to her. Despite her depression, I had little symphony for her, as she pointlessly cheated on him/treated him like trash/ect. (& also how awful she treated other characters, her sister mainly..)

    As far as the fact pointed out here that he barely seemed to Know her & vice versa; the reason why? I always took it as these are Very Wealthy people & it was basically an arranged marriage, which Often happens with wealthy families; even nowadays in countries such as the States. (me assuming this film's setting took place in the United States..) That's how I always took the obvious disconnection between the bride & groom; an arranged marriage or "agreement" between two wealthy families.

    Nice video here!, Although I'm curious of your opinion as to what issues you didn't care for in the film/2nd half of the film.

  7. cant take the delivery of the commentary.
    I tried after many month but I cannot get past the stilted talking patterns.

  8. This is about the whore of babylon she ensnared the groom he didnt want to marry her it was forced by parasitic possession & twisting words to suit herself he realised shes a whore & hates her thats why shes depressed shes the worst person on earth & shes sold out humanity to satan so shes bringing curses & judgement on herself
    Shes a demon from hell & she possessed & eclipsed the groom who was humanitys only hope of true salvation as he was the true messiah but she saw his beauty & power & greedily selfishy stole his soul to humanitys detriment shes lied stolen cheated & killed her way to shortcuts to reach heaven & shes unworthy she barged in & opened the gates to let the demons in shes a fool & a retard who should be executed shes murdered all mankind by entertaining the beast & the false prophet dr david owour helps her theres only one person trying to stop her shes the evil incarnate of pennywise the clown it consciousness shes legion the demon & shes possessed by satan AND jesus shes the new world orders one world religion grey alien jedi mary sue thats bringing hell to earth i tried to stop her now im risking my life to warn you all of the danger the creep is stalking me now the dogs are barking & hes at the abandoned house next door they know yet they do nothing to stop him hes the false messiah antichrist he wont go away

  9. I fucking LOVE the wedding scene of this film, nothing capture the FEELING of depression itself better then it. Going in and out of the party, trying to be happy at your own wedding but ultimately not being able to, the self destructiveness, etc. it’s sooo good

  10. I have a broken tooth, i would not mind if someone dropped a planet on me right now. Just make the pain go away.

  11. I would love to see how the rest of the world was handling the impeding doom of the planet. Were world governments coming together to find a solution to the possible extinction of humans? Like looking to Mars? Or something else?

  12. I suffer from both depression and anxiety. My own feelings about it is that modern culture and being completely cut off from nature is the culprit.

  13. i just wonder how many of us would be depressed if we got out of ourselves and started thinking about the innocent beings that are terrified and alone everyday, never knowing a loving hand or thought due to us…. i am opening an animal sanctuary in new mexico… look me up when you want to love. BTW, loved this movie. Could you imagine? 💚 💚

  14. Science and medicine would have you pop a pill for everything without really understanding the "why". Weird really…you wouldn't cut someone open and do a surgery and hope for the best when you have no idea of what the cause of their pain is. You would think the most complex organ we have would be treated with more care by these so-called gods among men, smh.

  15. This insight about time and depression is so very accurate for me, today I realized that I couldn't for the life of me figure out if I was 22 or 23 years old. Life is so much the same everyday that a year is no different than the other.

  16. I used to describe depression as living behind a pane of glass, no sound penetrates, the glass deforms the images and puts distance between the viewer and the viewed. Years ago I met a woman who had been trying to 'cure' her sons severe depression, he became very violent and many doctors just didn't help of find a 'cure'. I explained to her that his depression was his friend, his only friend, he lived with it, he slept with it, it went everywhere with him and became his only friend. By trying to 'cure' him she was trying to kill his only friend, the 'person' he clinged to, the only 'person' to understand him and allow him to be him. The only answer was to give him another friend, Something that would very slowly take over from the depression friend until that bad friend lost his influence over the host. She said that over the years no one had managed to explain it like this to her so she stopped trying to cure him and began to recognise the third party as a living breathing person. Things got better.

  17. That last bit where she is happy, is the happy excitement burst people sometimes get once they've decided they're going to commit suicide and do. Don't do that btw, but that's what I recognise that as.

  18. Coming out and saying you write about your own self and your own depression is just silly imo, let the art speak and let me retain a sense of mystery, don't just shoehorn yourself in there and say it's about me, that kind of thing bugs me a lot. Anyone understand what I'm saying or think I'm being too harsh?

  19. I don't get depression, but it must be hell. Dated a woman for a while who was lovely, but just goodn't be happy. Wasn't in her dna. We're still friends but "loving" her would have been hard.

  20. Fantastic! Thanks alot for sharing your knowledge, i really appreciate this very much! I wish you the best, Thank You!

  21. i know it's not the healthiest thing, but whenever i have a depressive episode, it's almost comforting in a way. im not sure how to explain it.

  22. I saw this film a few years ago and I found it basically puzzling. It basically deals with two major issues, depression and the end of the world. Seems to me that no one would really care about depression if the world was going to end in a few weeks.

  23. The film is not only about Justine, and by extension depression.
    The movie is about depression and anxiety, represented by Claire, who's the protagonist of the second part.

  24. The fact that the movie takes place during a wedding reception — a time designated for celebration and fun — is very poignant. As someone with depression I can say that times without purpose are the worst and the most painful. Having a purpose dulls the pain a bit…or I guess it distracts you from the inward feelings of depression and slightly changes your state of mind. My worst days are weekends and vacations. Now I don't take vacations and I strive to plan and execute projects on weekends never giving myself a chance to sink back into the abyss.

  25. I just finished watching the movie moments ago and immediately came looking for this exact video. The title and the thumbnail of this video intrigued me to watch this movie some years ago, and I managed to do just that today.

    I was feeling depressed by the chaos ensuing the world at the moment. And watching this movie and immediately following it up with movie bring some calm and in a weird sense – a resolution, even if it is momentarily and abstract.

  26. One of my favourite movies ever made; maybe because I suffer from the same chronic depression that Justine had and her depiction of it was very truthful.

  27. I come back to this film over and over again. It's such a contrast to how scared I was when I first saw this. Life is often miserable and dark but everyone has their little distractions. It's about embracing feelings others don't have.

  28. I loved this. More than the actual movie. But maybe I'm too close to the subject. And maybe I owe the movie a second chance. Thank you.

  29. Hi there actually isn't any data that supports the idea that people with depression experience "a warped" perception of time…just saying…

  30. I always find some hint of joy in sadness. In a world where everybody want's to be happy, it can be hard to know how much of your happiness is real, and how much of it is just you wanting to beleive that you are happy. When I feel sadness however, I know that that is real, and I find solace in knowing that sadness to be the most genuine, honest emotion I can ever feel. Sadness makes me feel more human than anything else ever could.

  31. Depression is often saddled with the overwhelming feeling of guilt. Where all of the people around you just want you to snap out of it and be happy.

  32. Aye I get it the planet is big and blue people often refer to depression as feeling blue to try and hide it. thus the planet is big and blue… I am ready for my oscar now

  33. What struck me the most, Justine was the insane one when everyone else were sane and she was the sane one when everyone else were insane.

  34. Thank you for doing this analysis. Just as I was watching it, mu boyfriend said he didn't believe in depression, that it is something that can fixed by changing one's diet. Clearly he has never suffered from a bout of serious depression. Many people have no frame of reference, or context to understand how irrationally debilitating depression can be. It's oh you were sad once and decided to continue being sad. Films like this are so crucial in the manner it visually communicates how overwhelmingly this experience can be.

  35. After I had a concussion it often felt like the world was moving in slow motion and I was walking through water. I wonder if it's similar to this

  36. on first view I was blown away by it.
    on the second view, the feeling wasn't there for me.
    so I think its just me, not the movie.

    I first got depression when i was 18. My friends called me: 'Depressed Mode' because I was obsessed with Depeche Mode's music.
    since then I've had many bouts of depression…and have been on meds since 1999.

  37. This movie and this depth review of the meaning of this movie has hit me so hard. All I can say was it was perfect in every way. Made me sad but, it made me happy knowing someone out there understands. The fact that it was displayed through art and you disassembling it for others who try to put it into words but can’t, beautiful. Yes art is the one thing that can help and touch all who suffer.

  38. I had a bad panic attack with this film. I could never really place it. This explains it.

  39. I related to most of this movie, the ending is what got to me. My depression alternates, btwn sadness, anger, disappointment & irritability. The smallest thing could send me into a tailspin, yet if a meteor landed in or near the complex that I live, it wouldn't even phase me. I didn't like the movie the 1st time I saw it, so I watched it again, and I related to every level of pain she was feeling. Events that never end, needing alone time, shutting the ringer off the phone, taking a break from ur own mental health. The list goes on……

  40. depression: the moment you're told someone you loved has died. That sinking feeling is what lives with me every day of my life, all day, every day. It hasn't gone away and has been with me since the age of five. Every day, that sinking feeling of someone you loved, you cared deeply for, has died. That, is what depression is.

  41. This film mAkes me feel bad, I am happy you made this video so I know what it’s about and don’t have to watch it 😁🥴

  42. So true on terms of time..ive never thought of that point. some days i felt like they were an eternity and i realise that many days have passed and i comprehended them as 1 day. it was torture and the only thing that helped me out was God. when i found him i was so broken down and in tears and in that moment i actually found a moment to breathe. any time i slip away from him i feel depression creeping on me like a darkness warping my reality, vision looking like a screen, and viscious cycles of Slooooww torment.

  43. Great video , depression can also make days speed up , but you are unaware of it at the time, then u realise then you are forced in to upset of what is waisted , the whole sense of time , day and night is a constant depression of a never ending whirlwind. All what has happend is you have aged and you just want it to stop , but that's life

  44. A movie about the fake Nirbiru planet, and how rich snobby people cope with the impending doom and gloom of their lives ending ..
    😫😆😋😷🐑 💨
    I have manic depression, and bipolar, and this movie annoyed me, and it was very boring ..

  45. This is one of my favourite movies. What is the reason for Justine's depression? Does the movie give any hints about it? I've last seen it several years ago, so I don't remember anymore. I have been depressed in the past and have known exactly the reason behind it. Maybe there's always a non-physiological and non-chemical reason for depression, but only some people are aware of it? Many people say there's no reason for their depression other than some imbalance in brain chemistry, but maybe they're just not aware of it?

  46. Not exactly sure if mine is described like in the film but I sometimes i finally go to sleep and i like wake up and it’s a few days later and I have some memories of the previous few days

  47. I have a rather unique theory about this movie. Nearly everyone talks about how Justine is calm at the end because she wants life to end, because she is severely depressed, but if you look at the last 30 sec of the movie very carefully, Justine is not calm, there is anxiety on her face. Why? Because in that moment she connects with something she has failed to find in the entire film, hope, innocence, in the form of holding hands with the child. She rejects her sisters idea to drink wine and elaborates mockingly they should listen to Beethoven's 9th, these are things that would comfort her, not her son. Thru out the movie every character Justine encounters is nothing but selfish. The husband kills himself instead of comforting his family. Her mother is cold hearted, her father who (likely has dementia) confuses her name with that of his lover. Her husband wants nothing but sex and fun when she is clearly in deep pain. You see this when she asks him for a moment and he continues to try to undress and make out with her. She tells her boss he is power hungry and selfish, to which realizing this is the truth, smashes his plate and leaves. Tim wants to have sex and profit off her business expertise. Justine is hurting deeply and nobody wants anything from her but to play her role and put on a smiling face. Then, she gives up hope, "life on earth is evil" she says. She is naked and rubs her breast looking out at the planet that will bring death to all life. She delights in the destruction of evil. But, in the end, when connected to something pure, she finds hope, and hope in the face of an apocalypse means terror. This movie is not about a woman wanting her own suffering to end, then finding peace when it does. It is about a woman looking for that Roussauean child like purity in a world of nothing but Machiavellian/Nietzschean self interested will to power, looking for a reason to care about life, then at the very end she finds it, all too late. Because of this I disagree with Zizek that the film is ultimately optimistic, it is the exact opposite…. Or maybe im just projecting… after all I am just a 19 year old pseudo intellectual probably full of shit. Nevertheless you cant convince me Justine is at peace at her final moments, just look at her face.

  48. Ophelia wasn't 'depressed', she had trauma and distress from someone she loved being killed.Depression is a state of being that is constant even without losing someone. They could all be there with you and you're depressed.

  49. Depression is just about the most singular emotion and that honestly doesn't give it justice The Man that made this film has said he understands Hitler. I guess we just have to figure it out.

  50. Many mental illnesses can be apprehended, understood, solved with the study of spirituality and the acceptance that what you see is never what you really get.

  51. This film has been impossible for me to forget. It had a powerful effect on me. I've never been able to describe the film adequately, nor explain my visceral reaction to it.

  52. If Melancholia was great, then Antichrist was pure genius. I love both but Antichrist had me physically shaking for 2 days afterwards (never happened before or since), everyone was silent after the end, we went out of the theater like grieving people coming out of a funeral. The tension and build up was incredibly intense. The aesthetic was out of this world.
    I loved almost all of Lars' work, since The Idiots. Fucking genius.

  53. This film really moved me. I also have both major depression and terrible anxiety issues. Didn't even know that this was what the film was about. Plus, the cinematography was so excellently done, the whole movie is like an orgasm for my eyes.

  54. To anybody who wonders what is the song that starts around 5:00 til the end it's called : "Till we meet again (The phone call Library memory)" from Dexter Britain

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