How It’s Percieved

While Melancholia (2011) is viewed as a film centered on the ending of the world, it can also be translated as a film about depression; more specifically, how different people show depression. Everyone has different symptoms to depression, and the same goes for how they physically show those symptoms. Not everyone diagnosed with depression “looks” like they have depression. Some people look and sound happy, like nothing is wrong. The three main characters are manifestations of the different ways people show and handle depression.

Justine shows her depression they way most people perceive it; tired, sad, and lonely. She embodies what most people perceive depression to be. She is unable to do mundane tasks, and even the one thing that would normally make her happy, meatloaf, does nothing. She is the most silent character throughout the film until the end, when death is inevitable. At the films ending, Justine is content and at peace with the end of the world; her world had already ended.

Claire winds up in the middle of the spectrum. She has bouts of sadness, and then goes back to acting as if nothing is wrong in front of other people. At the wedding it is harder to tell, but during the second half of the film, as Melancholia draws nearer, her sadness and fear is more noticeable and becomes more frequent. Claire sees her family and the Earth as her world; with it about to be destroyed in one go, she becomes distraught. At the very last moment when Melancholia hits Earth, while Justine and Tim are calm and remaining still, Claire is still scared, and clutches herself, moving about frantically.

John is the opposite extreme to Justine; he does not outwardly show his depression. He goes about his life as if nothing is wrong, and we believe him. We never know exactly how he feels until the ending of the film. He says that he was aware of the possibility that Melancholia could hit the Earth, even though throughout the film he continues to reassure Claire that it won’t. When he realizes that it will, he takes his life. It is too late for anyone to do anything about it, or to even know that he was planning on doing so. He ends his world before Melancholia has the chance to.

Everyone handles depression in their own way. The end of the world would most likely cause it in almost everyone. How different would this film be without the element of depression?


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