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Mallouh, C. (2013). Melancholia and The Sacrifice: The Dead Mother and the Shadow of Death. Fort Da, 19(1):119-128.

(2013). Fort Da, 19(1):119-128

Melancholia and The Sacrifice: The Dead Mother and the Shadow of Death Related Papers

Review by:
Catherine Mallouh, M.D.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me …

23rd Psalm, King James Bible

Death is ever-present, both psychic and real, in the film Melancholia. The film tells the story of Justine's wedding night, her descent into depression, and the anticipation of the planet Melancholia colliding with Earth. Death resides in Justine, and it approaches with the collision of the planets. It resides in the relationship of Justine and her mother. Facing death itself is present in the film, and what that means psychically.

This paper will explore the presence of death in Melancholia, through Andre Green's writings on the dead mother complex (Green, 1986), as well as the concept of the death instinct, and the difficulty of comprehending death and mortality. The Sacrifice, by the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (Sweden, 1986), serves as an interesting counterpoint to Melancholia. In this film, the characters face impending nuclear annihilation, and the main protagonist, Alexander, makes a sacrifice in an attempt to save his family and the earth from this death.

The Dead Mother

At Justine's wedding dinner, her mother stands up and delivers an obituary of marriage: “… I don't believe in marriage.

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