In defence of Antichrist

When it comes to courting controversy, few directors have greater experience than Lars von Trier, but the Festival is right to screen the shocking Antichrist.

In the last few years EIFF has never been afraid to show films which are at the edge of the acceptable. And if we look at the moral crimes levelled at von Trier’s Antichrist, they’re not exactly new to the Festival.

Graphic scenes of real sex?

Larry (Kids) Clark’s contribution to 2006’s art project/collection of smut (depending on your point of view) Destricted, featured a young man in flagrante with a porn star. Very real, and the standout piece of this pervy portmanteau.

Sexual violence?

Before I was an employee, I sat slack-jawed along with the rest of the EIFF 2002 audience at Gaspar Noé’s brutal Irreversible, which contained a sickening rape scene. The film brought Noé infamy, and his latest, Enter the Void, is one of this year’s most anticipated releases.

Genital mutilation?

The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael featured a horrifying and bloody rape scene, which shocked many at EIFF 2005.

I was chatting to the film critic Neil Young about Antichrist and, as he pointed out, the BBFC commented: “It is clear that Antichrist is not a 'sex work' but a serious drama exploring issues such as grief, loss, guilt and fear.”

This isn't a stag movie, a sex education film or a big screen adaptation of the Red Shoe Diaries.

Am I saying that the inclusion of the sexually shocking or unpalatable immediately qualifies a film as either good or important?

Not at all. My point is that we shouldn’t be getting our knickers in a twist over Antichrist.

Every film at EIFF - from Ice Age 3 to Antichrist - should be judged on its merit, regardless of content.

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Colan has a background in film criticism, and was drafted in to bring you great content on this very website.


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