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Mathes, B. (2013). (Waiting to Happen). DIVISION/Rev., 7:44.

(2013). DIVISION/Review, 7:44

(Waiting to Happen)

Review by:
Bettina Mathes, Ph.D.

It is generally understood that the reality principle involves the individual in anger and reactive destruction, but my thesis is that the destruction plays its part in making the reality, placing the object outside of the self. For this to happen, favourable conditions are necessary.

“The Use of an Object and Relating Through Identification,” D. W. Winnicott

Lars von Trier's Melancholia is the kind of film critics love: enigmatic, stunning, beautiful, self-conscious, and rich in philosophical, historical, and cinematic references. Melancholia makes us write. As if to say, “No, no—the Earth has not been destroyed. I know you, Melancholia; I interpret you; I own you. Subject and Object, Here and There.” An escape of sorts, if you will. Critics tend to be impatient—that's their job.

But what about the longing for disaster and catastrophe? The wish that there was no escape? To disappear completely. What about the pleasure derived from waiting (and wishing) for the end of the world—quietly, in the dark, unobserved in the company of strangers? The cinema is one of the few spaces left in our culture where waiting is not considered a waste of time or money. (A psychoanalyst's office is another.) When we watch a film, we're waiting for things to happen. To watch Melancholia is to sit with two sisters, a boy, and a horse as they await the inescapable. “The Earth is evil, no one will miss it.” We also watch people who cannot wait, who escape: the father, the groom, the husband-scientist.

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