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Unhappy endings

Lars von Trier’s behaviour at Cannes overshadowed his powerful new film, argues Matthew Sweet, who finds contemporary depictions of dystopia harsher than those of the last century

By Matthew Sweet   July 2011

The earful of Wagner is your first clue that some variety of disaster is on its way. And then, slowly, comes a parade of images to put you in the mood for apocalypse: thunderous stars and galaxies; a horse dropping dead like something from one of the gloomier lines in a Roman augury; breathtaking footage from the dark side of Kirsten Dunst; a rogue planet roaring towards our world and smacking it to pieces as if it were a spaceborne meringue sandwich.

The planet is called Melancholia. It’s the star—as it were—of the new picture by Lars von Trier. He’s…

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