LUCAS: That was stupid.
REX: [Lars von Trier] was clearly a little depressed.
LUCAS: I don’t know. That was just…stupid. I think my expectations were set ridiculously high. It was just boring.
REX: What do you think Chris?
(Chris sits quietly, staring at the credits, his fingers steepled under his chin. Finally, exhales.)
LUCAS: Still absorbing it all?
CHRIS: I just. Wow. Well. Uh—there was a lot of sexual symbolism. That’s for sure.
CHRIS: Every time the movie put the male phallus triumphantly on display, femininity would dominate. For example, in the last chapter before the epilogue, everything is in grayscale except for the tree, a stout, glowing phallic symbol. But, then, a legion of women overcomes him.
REX: Definitely a lot of psychological investigation of human nature.
LUCAS: Man. I didn’t get any of that.
CHRIS: The one part I absolutely despised and I wish they’d removed was the talking fox.
REX: Yeah, I didn’t understand the point of that at all. It didn’t add anything to the movie.
JASON: I don’t think the fox was actually talking so much as Williem Defoe was imagining the voice and the fox mouthing the words. I liked the audio of the voice, but it didn’t really work right there. Maybe Lars wanted to break up the mood.
CHRIS: True. I still hated it. It took an otherwise serious, ominous tone and made it comical.
LUCAS: That was my favorite part! I thought, finally something is happening.
JASON: It’s obvious that he [Lars von Trier] was pissed off at women when he wrote this.
CHRIS: I liked how it was an Adam and Eve story in reverse. We started in present day and traveled back to the advent of original sin in the Garden of Eden. And it was as if the movie’s Eve realized that it would be in the best interest of humanity if Eve were to remove the part of her that drove her sexuality.
(Everyone, including Chris, cringes.)
LUCAS: When she drove that bar through his leg, I was just thinking, yes, we don’t have to watch ugly people do it anymore. (Laughs.) I would’ve been fine if I didn’t see Williem Defoe’s junk.
REX: Well, that wasn’t actually Williem Defoe. It was mostly likely a porn-double or a prosthetic.
CHRIS: I’d say prosthetic. Did you see how unrealistically smooth it was?
REX: (Laughs.) And rodlike!
JASON: Speaking of that part [the immobilization scene]. I couldn’t help but notice that Williem was so concerned with his leg. That was pretty bad, but I would be worried about my aching nuts!
REX: He never checked them!
(Laughter and agreement.)
REX: I think it’ll be a while before the next handjob.
CHRIS: I was surprised at the level of detail given us by the camera during the castration scene. I thought the scene from Penance was the worst, but this topped that.
JASON: The female castration bothered me so much more, too.
CHRIS: There’s a notable essay concerning that. About how men cringe more at the sight of female genital mutilation versus male.
REX: As if we don’t want the womb, our starting point in life, our home, destroyed.
CHRIS: Saw that symbol, too, when he took refuge in the fox hole.
REX: Plus it was all tastefully, artistically executed. You could tell the film’s intention wasn’t to see how far they could go with something. Everything was displayed for a purpose, not for shallow shock value.
CHRIS: The point definitely wasn’t to define a superior gender.
LUCAS: Yeah, just like in the books she was studying for her thesis, she seemed to decide that women needed to be punished.
REX: He’s right. Women deserve or require the bondage, mutilation they suffered.
LUCAS: But, man, that was about a nine out of ten on the weird-o-meter.
CHRIS: One thing’s for sure. The film was well made. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good arthouse film.
REX: The opening scene was outstanding.
LUCAS: Yeah, it was good.
JASON: The cinematography was painfully beautiful in the sense that the film was translated effortlessly.
JASON: The super slow-mo was akin to the dullness of a stomachache—tolerable yet uncomfortable nevertheless. He combined slowness with super-detailed close-ups that were almost too in-focus, and the contrast of the two were remarkable in the push-pull that it created within.
(Jason continues. Chris and Rex further engage. Lucas thumbs at his iPhone.)
JASON: Camera angles created a sense of softness and dread at the same time; the overhead shots of her walking gave the vantage point of some ethereal being, Satan, or just plain stark loneliness from minute to minute.
CHRIS: Especially in the metaphysical sequences.
JASON: The overexposed lighting technique again somehow was able to merge the dichotomy of good and evil in the same frame. Bright halos formed around her face and head at times emulating an angel, yet inside she was losing the battle with the evil that was consuming her. Brilliant play.
REX: One thing I noticed was that she didn’t really have any care-level guilt or remorse [concerning the child]. In fact, they were both mostly unremorseful. There was some superficial guilt, but for her it was more like recognition, clinical recognition, than remorse.
JASON: She was busy gettin’ it! (Laughs.) Seriously, though. Yes, and she felt her own guilt because she wasn't feeling as much remorse as she thought she should, so she targeting him for it. In addition that fact caused her physical and psychological condition to worsen, not because of the loss directly.
CHRIS: That makes sense if you compare Freud and Jung. The movie even took an explicit stab at Freud. In that light, I see the movie as entertaining the notion of Carl Jung’s shadow theory. She got upset with him, accusing him of being indifferent. But it seemed that he was projecting her shadow. As Jung says, people rarely like seeing their shadow in others.
REX: I subscribe to Jungian psychology.
CHRIS: And, like Jason said, if we don’t embrace and accept our shadow, it tears us apart.
LUCAS: You guys are reading way into it.
(Jason, Rex, and Lucas begin to depart. Chris gets up, turns off the TV.)
CHRIS: I’m definitely going to watch that again. There’s tons of symbolism going on.
LUCAS: I’m never watching that again.
(Group departs. Conversation continues next day.)