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The Deployment of the Impossible Woman in Antichrist

  • Ahmed Elbeshlawy
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Abstract

Chapter  7 argues that if there is any female character in the history of cinema that comes close to presenting the viewer with the clearest possible image of Lacan’s Woman who is outside the system of symbolization yet threatens its very foundation, it is Charlotte Gainsbourg’s character in Antichrist. It neither looks for positive traits in Antichrist nor dismisses it as an entirely harmful film. In the imaginary, nightmarish world of Antichrist, in its ultimate negativity and perceived identification with the idea that women may be evil by their very nature, the film takes an already established historical discourse of female marginalization and identifies with it to the very point of that discourse’s self-destruction. Moreover, it is precisely what is seen by some viewers as the film’s clumsy climactic sequence during which Gainsbourg’s character takes inspiration from her studies on genocide and comes to embody all the evils done to woman throughout history that marks the film’s deepest insight into the human condition as such, beyond gender politics. Two stylistic traits in Antichrist play major roles in communicating its unsettling message: the employment of voices and sounds, and the employment of the sexual scenes.

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Filmography

  1. Antichrist. Directed and written by Lars von Trier. Irvington, NY: Criterion Collection, 2010.Google Scholar
  2. Breaking the Waves. Directed and written by Lars von Trier. Paris: Pathé, 2003.Google Scholar

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed Elbeshlawy
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Professional and Continuing EducationHong Kong UniversityHong KongHong Kong

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