Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, the Bible, and Docetic Masculinity
Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) has been criticised by feminists for its perceived misogyny. This interpretation ignores the long afterlife of the biblical figure of the Antichrist, which is more complex than its traces in contemporary popular culture would suggest. Reading the film into the reception history of the Antichrist, drawing on both contemporary scholars and Friedrich Nietzsche—whose virulent critique of Christianity, Der Antichrist, has long been on the director’s bedside table—I argue that von Trier uses the figure to paint a scathing, even shocking, critique of masculinity as inscribed in the creeds of the early Church. The three interrelated poles of my analysis—the biblical, the aesthetic and the Nietzschean—all point in the same direction: Antichrist is not a film about the dangerous female psyche, but about a masculinity that has gone astray—or, to borrow a term from theological discourse, become "docetic."
Lars von Trier; Antichrist; Feminist theology; masculinity; haptic visuality; Docetism