Provocation by Space: Shocking Images of Forest in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist



Rather than shocking images in the forest, this paper attempts to analyse the shocking images of the forest in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) and the role of space in creating an affection-image. In this film, von Trier seems to have reached a culmination of his aesthetics of sensation in the way Gilles Deleuze understands it. In contact with the spectator, as Deleuze suggests, the art should function as a force, intensity, as a sensation, that way addresing the nervous system rather than the brain. The French philosopher compared film image to canvas paintings that can communicate directly the vibration and resonance created by the movement. In Antichrist, von Trier painted the sensation of the forest on his film canvas, making it a legitimite character of the film. Instead of being just a backdrop, von Trier’s forest steps forward, occupying most of the screen space, but also overruning the two main characters of the film. Foreground and background therefore blend together, causing the shocking actions of the characters to be precieved mainly as an integral part of the overall horrific atmosphere, not carrying the value of shock on their own.

Keywords: Antichrist, Lars von Trier, affection-image, Gilles Deleuze, film space