“Little Children, It is the Last Time”: The Ovolutionary Trees of Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist

  • Larrie Dudenhoeffer


One of the first questions that occurs to the viewer after watching Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) is “Who is the title character?” Who is the antichrist in the film? Its storyline seems to offer no overt clues, especially since it focuses on two characters, “He” (Willem Defoe) and “She” (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a couple recovering from the accidental death of their infant son Nick. He, an exposure therapist, resolves to take She, an ecofeminist working on a thesis about “Gynocide” in relation to witch-hunts, to a cabin in the woods to confront their worst fears there. However, Eden, the ironic name of the woods, destroys their relationship, as the two of them grow suspicious of each other; subject each other to violent sexual acts, including genital mutilation; and receive omens from what appear totem animals. In spite of their treacheries, in spite of their involvement in witchcraft, ritual torture, and the supernatural, the film does not type either He or She as an antichrist. Von Trier also does not offer any explanation of the film’s title, coyly saying in an interview, “I always thought it was a good title. It’s not really a horror film and it’s not really religious. So if it’s a good title for this film, I don’t know.”1 In any case, Von Trier’s instincts are correct, as Antichrist is a “good title” for the film, in that its opening scenes suggest an answer to the question about the identity of the title character.


Sexual Ambivalence Teddy Bear Gender Conformism Horror Cinema Title Character 
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© Larrie Dudenhoeffer 2014

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  • Larrie Dudenhoeffer

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