Melancholia is a two-part film that follows a family’s experiences and reactions when a rogue planet passes by and ultimately hits earth, completely obliterating it. There are a few apocalyptic themes in the movie, which range from fairly obvious to more subtle. The most obvious theme is the destruction of the world. A rogue planet crashing into earth is very different from what happens in Revelation, but its thematic implications find parallels in the biblical book. It marks the end of the world as the characters know it. Their physical existence ends, and their earthly comforts, which are rather luxurious, become nothing, similarly to the earthly possessions of those experiencing the events of Revelation in the bible. John stresses that physical things will not help fend off the Last Judgement, as the poor/those who suffered on earth will be rewarded in heaven, and the rich/those who lived comfortable lives, not believing in God, will be doomed to hell. However, the connections to Revelation can’t be carried too far with Melancholia. Lars von Trier didn’t really make the movie with Christian apocalypticism in mind; he based it off his experience and struggle with depression.
Quimby’s introduction discussing, among various topics, the three types of apocalypse can be used to interpret Melancholia through an apocalyptic lens. In the opening paragraphs, Quimby addresses the theological and non-theological approaches to apocalyptic discourse. The film falls into the non-theological category, as it looks at an end to the world that is based on an astronomical event, instead of on one originating in heaven and the characters struggle with their own personal emotions in the face of impending doom. However, the fears associated with theological apocalypse are very similar to those identified in non-theological apocalypse and Quimby stresses that they cannot fully be separated. Non-theological apocalypse often derives from theological discourse, adopting its language and imagery to explain widespread disasters or suffering.
One aspect of the movie I found especially interesting was the different responses of each character to the inevitable destruction of earth and, subsequently, to their impending deaths. They demonstrated what I think to be the basic reactions of humans when faced with dying. One took control of his own end, committing suicide instead of waiting for disaster to kill him. One displayed outright fear and desperation to stop death, while another accepted the end with a calm demeanor, as if acknowledging nothing could prevent the inevitable. I would imagine if the events of Revelation were to actually occur, humanity would display similar reactions based on their beliefs and trust/distrust of the higher powers.