Melancholia DVD REVIEW

It’s a sad sad sad sad world

Kirsten Dunst plays a bride in Melancholia.

Right about now, she started to regret her decision to hold the wedding reception on a yacht.

Release Date: 23 January 2012
2010 * 15 * 136 minutes * £15.99 (DVD)/£19.99 (Blu-ray)
Distributor: Artificial Eye
Director: Lars Von Trier
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Udo Kier

Openings don’t come any more attention-grabbing than a depiction of the world’s utter obliteration.

Beginning with the absolute end is the first of Lars Von Trier’s typically leftfield decisions during his atypical apocalyptic drama. The event itself is almost peripheral, pushed to one side after the first five minutes, leaving the remainder of the film to focus on the polar emotional approaches of two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), to potential disaster.

As with most of Von Trier’s work, the film meanders along at a glacial pace. It’s split into two distinct halves: the first concentrating on Justine’s extravagant wedding reception – the film at its best when depicting the ugly cracks during scenes of seeming joy – and the second focusing on Claire’s gradual spiral into despair as the creeping fear of extinction becomes reality.

Dunst and Rampling are mesmerising in their respective roles, so much so that the rest of the cast barely register. The film looks and sounds beautiful, opening on a series of hyper real, near-motionless, scenes backed by Wagner. Von Trier still has a tin ear for dialogue and several characters act so far from the norm that they never convince as actual human beings, but despite this Melancholia is certainly Von Trier’s most mainstream film and though not exactly laugh-a-minute, easily his most entertaining too.


The DVD (rated) has commentary from Von Trier, a four-part Making Of, and three short interviews. The Blu-ray adds a fantastic 54-minute doc on film studio Filmbyen.

Jordan Farley

For a (very) alternative perspective, read our review of the theatrical release of Melancholia.

Read more of our DVD reviews.