a revealing poll would be:
a) i liked melancholia and i have experienced what the main characters went through
b) i liked melancholia and i have not experienced what the main characters went through
c) it was boring and i experienced what the main characters went through
d) it was boring and i have not experience what the main characters went through
my point is that almost everyone i've talked to about it were split between a) and d).
well i would venture to guess that the level of depression she experiences is pretty rare so no i haven't experienced that. but i think its kind of unfair to assume people who didn't like the movie have never experienced depression in some form. i have. not to that extent, or anywhere close to that extent, but either way i can identify with what she goes through at least in some way.
my problem stems more from how he paints the other characters, as either shallow, stupid, hypocritical or drunk. and i don't buy that he was painting them only from her perspective. we are never given any indication that the perspective of the film is first-person through her eyes. we are seeing her from third person just like every other character. he doesn't seem to just want to show us her condition, but prove to us that her perspective is ultimately right. i honestly believe Lars Von Trier hates people and thinks the world sucks. and what's worse, instead of trying to change things he seems to have adopted this "fuck it, i'll just join the ride and laugh as the fake happy people realize life will come to an end and everything is hopeless" attitude that annoys me.
*edit: oh and i'll add "weak" to the list of characteristics he paints his characters with. everyone in the movie is presented as weak. crumbling under the weight of their own shallowness. breaking down when things got bad. except Justine, who's spirit improves as the world ends. because she's the only one who understood the whole time just how hopeless life is.
it was a pretty presumptuous, but semi-joking post on my part.
i think we need to talk about kevin
does the same thing. there's no hint at first person narrative but everyone is clearly characterized by tilda swinton's character. it may be third person but it's still her reconstruction of everything that happened. in melancholia
the first/third person dichotomy would be less effective if it written as an overt first person narrative.
if his point was to convey the bleak outward projections of someone gripped by that sort of overwhelming feeling of doom, then he did it the right way. first person judgments don't capture the all-encompassing, blanketing sensation of coldness and despair of depression. a depressed person doesn't have a running internal monologue that cynically mischaracterizes the qualities and intentions of those around him or her. they are more likely to experience everyone in the way that you interpret as von trier's cynicism for people in a normative way. but he isn't making normative judgments. it's a positive reconstruction and depiction of the world as a depressed person sees it despite how they can recognize the absurdity of their general cynicism and still fail to accept it. i think the movie shows how von trier acknowledges this absurdity, but admits how violent it nevertheless conflicts with a depressed reality.
basically how you described the way he paints his characters is as a depressed person sees people around them, beneath cynical veils of shallowness and insecurity--it's not conscious or voluntary, and a first person exposition would not demonstrated this distinction. it's confusion and paranoia. i think that is proof enough we are supposed to interpret these characters largely as justine's projections. additionally, these superficialities, dishonesties, and vices other characters display always seem to be either ignored or fly right over the heads of everyone else around. a few scenes were legitimately awkward for a lot of people, but many scenes that magnified negative qualities appear to be viewed very passively or imperceptibly by surrounding characters, with either indifference or obliviousness, making you question the intrinsic authenticity of the vices in the first place. are they justine's projections or are they real? probably exaggerated observations that are consistent with her inner conflict of being unable to temper involuntary abstractions of her friends' characters.
her husband isn't portrayed negatively. his role was sort of tragic. she demolished her one positive relationship out of suspicion and general self-destruction. i have more to say about this but i'm getting a little tired and have work to do.
briefly, about her getting 'better': the end of the world is just a metaphor for the smothering nature of her depression. i thought she reached an oxymoronic state of depressed contentment, while the "end of the world" set on her family who were ill-prepared and inexperienced. a key scene is when they're looking at it approach through the circle thing someone made, and one moment it appears to be receding, creating relief. but then JUST KIDDING it's still approaching. it never diverted its course. that's so depression, lying dormant for a short time, or even a long time, as the subject feels cautious relief, but grips them even more powerfully when they let down their guard.