Type of Thesis
Dr. Jeremy Green
Dr. Jane Garrity
Dr. Robert Nauman
This thesis explores the dense symbolic world of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist through theories of the grotesque. I will argue that Antichrist confronts a repressed cultural ideology regarding dangerous femininity that continues to inform modern Western culture. By recreating the Biblical fall in the fictional realm of “Satan’s church” von Trier exposes the historical gendering of the threatening aspects of nature—chaos, death, and evil—as feminine in Christian theology. But, while this distorted Christian creation myth frames the story, the interaction between the two protagonists, “He” and “She,” reflects familiar discourses of modern gender politics. Antichrist exposes the underlying cultural anxiety around women’s bodies that continues to motivate modern sanctions on female sexuality and reproduction as echoes of archaic, misogynist perceptions of femininity. Von Trier uses the female grotesque motif to confront this cultural anxiety around female sexuality, rather than to promote it. Antichrist inverts Christian iconography and myth to subvert the hierarchical gender roles that Christianity has historically helped to construct.
Newton, Meghan, "Lars von Trier’s Trinity of Negativity: Nature, Chaos, and Downward Momentum in Antichrist" (2015). Undergraduate Honors Theses. 827.