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Open Access Her green materials: Mourning, ‘Melancholia’, and not-so-vital materialisms

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‘I’m trudging through a grey woolly yarn. It’s clinging to my legs. It’s really heavy to drag along’, says Justine (Kirsten Dunst) to her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourgh). Draped like a corpse in the whiteness of her wedding dress, Justine is immobile in a state of acute depression – that is, melancholia. The colour palette of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011) with its opening sequence of slow motion sensuality establishes the thesis statement of the film’s narrative. The green and vital life of Earth, its cultural traditions and weddings, will be obliterated for eternity by an incoming rogue planet called Melancholia. This narrative premise allows the spectator to witness cinema at its most painterly, as tableaux vivant with compositions that illuminate Justine’s wedding in many shades of green. Grey and blue insert shots set in space foreshadow the film’s denouement: the grey and ashy blue absorption of Earth by Melancholia.
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Keywords: Lars von Trier; film; green; material; melancholia; mourning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tenured lecturer in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

Publication date: 2013-03-01

More about this publication?
  • NECSUS is an international, double-blind peer reviewed journal of media studies connected to NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) and published by Amsterdam University Press. The journal is multidisciplinary and strives to bring together the best work in the field of media studies across the humanities and social sciences. We aim to publish research that matters and that improves the understanding of media and culture inside and outside the academic community. Each volume includes feature articles, a special thematic section, a video essay section, and a reviews section that covers books, festivals, and exhibitions. NECSUS is targeted to a broad readership of researchers, lecturers, and students, and will be offered as a biannual open access, online journal.

    The journal is published in Open Access, with the following Creative Commons copyright license: Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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