Welcome to the latest edition of 24 Frames. Sahara Shrestha and Andrew Jamieson will be guiding you through the exciting, confusing and often brilliant world of 'film'. Expect news, trailers and plenty of opinion.

The latest edition is brought to you by Andrew Jamieson, who can be found on twitter over at @theghostwriterc.



24 Frames: The 'Antichrist' Edition

As Lars Von Trier's new movie Nymphomaniac debuts in the United Kingdom on 25th December 2013 (no US release date has been finalised as of now) I thought I would return to Von Trier's controversial horror movie Antichrist starring Willem Dafoe and the French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The director is a divisive figure in the movie industry and his controversial and ridiculous comments a few years ago are well known. I myself have always felt like a peripheral audience member while watching his movies; finding it difficult to immerse myself in any of them. It is Antichrist that stands up to me as the director's best work. Upon release the movie was lambasted for its shocking depiction of genital mutilation, sex and violence. Upon first viewing I found it hard to take a movie where a fox informs the audience that "chaos reigns" too seriously. While the film is violent and subversive there is a key subtext to the plot that transcends its seemingly exploitative virtues.

  • Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist (2009)

For those who haven't seen the movie I will not reveal too much of the plot here. Suffice to say that this year we have had a remake of The Evil Dead which was originally directed by Sam Raimi. The Evil Dead features an infamous scene involving a tree that reeks of passive misogyny (a charge also levelled at many of Von Trier's movies). In the horror genre itself we see this theme come through again and again and the topic of gender in horror is marvellously tackled by Carol Clover's book Men, Women and Chainsaws. Antichrist stands out as it addresses the context to these ideas head on.

As the Charlotte Gainsbourg character is isolated in the narrative by her research into witchcraft and the witch hunts that took place in earlier times she is affected by this research and its pejorative horrors. The character appears to come to the conclusion that it is feminine influence on the world that is a negative one. In the opening scene of the movie Gainsbourg's character is oblivious to the horror taking place around her because of her own sexual desires. Thusly, these examples would seem to suggest that the movie has a distinctly misogynistic and patriarchal view of the world. A view which I find to be repellent, so I spent many months informing my friends that the movie was not worth the time it took to buy a ticket! However once I took another look at the movie I thought it was abundantly clear that Gainsbourg's eventual decent into madness is caused by the patriarchal ideals of the men who have slaughtered innocent women over the years in horrific ways (just look at the resources she is using to research her thesis in the movie).

  • Willem Dafoe with Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist

The woods that the couple find themselves in are part of the natural world; the cruelty of the violence against women this naturalistic environment has bore witness to is not. Once the denouement of the film arrives in the much vaunted 'scissor scene' Gainsbourg is actually the victim of the violence and horrific consequences of a patriarchal society which seeks to control and in this case to destroy the aspects of a woman's life that bring her sexual fulfilment and ultimately the birth of new life. A destruction that Gainsbourg's character eventually visits on herself. The fact that the character known only as 'She' in the cast list of the movie has been researching the truly disturbing elements of the historical horrors visited on women. It is this concept that women themselves can be infected by such grotesquery is to me the truly horrifying aspect of the film and its main thematic concern.

Antichrist is a horrifying portrayal of the true consequences of misogyny, control and patriarchy on the feminine ideal. It is these elements that elevate Antichrist to another level. Here we have a poetic and brutal horror film, but it is brutal because of its ideas; not because of its sensationalist approach to them, be afraid, be very afraid.