Watch the film before reading this. And you should definitely watch this film.
Soooo. . . Wow. Intense. It’s certainly not a film for all tastes, but it should be. If for no better reason than the discussions that you will have with other people about the film’s plot and deeper meanings.
I pride myself on being able to dissect an allegory, and to be able to spot the subtleties in a subtext. Antichrist has me at a loss. I have my theories, for sure, but if you can figure this one out off the bat, you’re a better man than I.
One problem I may be having is my lack of knowledge about Catholicism, which I’m certain had an influence on the structure, and is von Trier’s religion of choice. More “of choice” than many other Catholics, in fact, since he was raised by atheists and converted late in life.
So, intentionally doing no further research, this is my best guess.
The Man represents logic, rationality and civilization. The Woman represents emotion, imagination and humanity. Faced with a tragedy, Woman goes a little mad; Her feelings overtake her, and her world goes black. Man, feeling nothing, tries to understand why.
They are in Eden, a place where humanity lives in harmony with nature. But is nature a Godly place, or a place of great evil? If horror films have taught me anything, it’s that the latter is true. The Woman says “Nature is Satan’s church”. Granted, she seems pretty irrational at this point, but being the emotional component of the film, she is certainly more in touch with her spiritual side than the Man. Maybe what she’s saying is true.
So, since mankind must eventually leave the woods, the battle for the future of civilization begins. The Woman reads Gynocide, a book written by men, that describes the ways in which womankind is evil. Woman, being of an innocent nature, takes this as truth, and begins to adopt and embrace an evil persona. Men are rational, and must know what they’re talking about, right? She decides she wants to stay in the woods, in harmony with Satan, forever.
Man, realizing that he must escape this place and build a rational world, kills his wife. He wanders out of the woods, finally free of their evil influence. A group of women are climbing the hill, past him. Their faces are blurred out, distorted. As he forges on to a logic based, patriarchal society, he can no longer truly see them. He is soulless; Dead inside. The sexes retreat to their separate worlds, never again to live on common ground.
That’s just a first impression. Upon reflection, second viewing, or further research, I’m sure I could come up with a different one.
What are everyone else’s thoughts on this? Any other theories?