After thinking about this wonderfully beautiful film for almost two months, I finally (perhaps foolishly) feel ready to mutter a few of my frayed synapses’ most muddled concatenations.

I understand that Trier constructed Antichrist in such a way as to be available to a number of interpretations. He does this through utilizing symbols that nod to a number of possible sources.
So while saying that, I do feel that looking at Trier’s pattern of motifs and statements from his body of work one can make better sense of what he’s doing here.

Most informative to Antichrist are the films where Trier re-imagines Christianity: Breaking the Waves, Dancer in The Dark, Dogville, Manderlay. These films are inventive and challenging presentations which riff on themes of The Leap of Faith, and Saint as Martyr usually with the background of human injustice and cruelty.

Antichrist fits right in with these previous films because it immediately requires the viewer to question themselves:
“What is ‘Christ’?”
“What is it to be ‘Anti-Christ’?”

I was very tempted upon finishing Antichrist to pit it as a ‘counter’ or antithesis of the Christ/Saint/Martyr themes of the other films, as though maybe Antichrist was ‘about humanity’ or ‘a view of the world without God.’
I see that this was wrong.
Why?
Because Trier has always asked of us to see each of us as living Christ events. The potential for each of us to perform ‘impossible leaps of faith’ and the non-rational means and often tragic conclusions of these ‘leaps.’
He asks of us to see Christ’s humanity, and humanity’s potential to enact the divine in the midst of our largely banal, cruel, and chaotic world.

So what or who is the Antichrist implied here?
I believe that it is the ‘Chaos that reigns.’
It is meaninglessness, the force that surrounds us at all times that tempts us to see our lives as without order, meaning, without value.
The position that I believe Antichrist takes is that this force of meaningless chaos is real. It is the real state of things. It is however conquerable through our each making a ‘leap of faith’ as it were.
This triumph of the human spirit is not a synthesis or balance of Reason and Intuition, or Order and Chaos–it is the abnegation of these as opposing poles and transcending them in Pure Resolution or Survival.

Antichrist is the description of the triumph that occurs in one’s affirmation of life through their decision or choice. When one accepts the meaningless chaos and still rises with a ‘yes saying’ to life they pass through death and are recreated and mark a ‘Christ event.’

Here’s how I came to this view:

The film begins with a creative act: the act of making love. In the midst of creation, there is loss–in this case the loss of a young life. Decision is definitive. It says yes and it says no. Future is created and possible futures are cast off. We cannot know all the outcomes or consequences of our choices and we must accept that in our life-creation there will be potentially hurtful and destructive effects. This can be one definition for the ‘state of sin’ in the world.

From this moment of ‘decision’ our characters embark on paths that illustrate ways of trying to contain or control chaos. The husband and wife portray different ways that one may ‘wrap their head’ around this existential burden and we see that rationality and madness, science and magic, are just different paths of coping with or trying to control life.

Ultimately the husband finds that these concepts are not enough–one cannot shirk off or end the power of Antichrist. One only can continue, persevere in the face of it.

Integral to this idea in the film is the appearance of bodies in the forest. At first there are only languishing or lifeless bodies covering the forest floor as the couple make love: the quest is almost fulfilled, concepts of madness and reason are being dissolved–
then in the Epilogue we see the weary and battered husband as triumphant and he is joined by fully formed and living people.
These people are the new future, continued possibility, Life flooding towards the Hero of Faith.

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