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PostPosted: 13 Aug 2009, 03:53 
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Joined: 13 Aug 2004, 01:54
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I said Trier forces you to occupy problematic positions with relation to the characters.
What I mean by that is: I suspect the standard way of viewing this film is to see the story of a woman gone mad with grief and guilt over the death of her child who ultimately attempts to murder her husband, the father of the child and is ultimately murdered by him. In other words we watch a woman fall apart under the weight of woe and while we naturally understand and feel for her, our sympathy is primarily with the bewildered husband who does nothing but tries to help her get over he feelings of grief.
I suggest, however, that this is the story of a woman who is subjected to systematic mental abuse by her husband (hence her plea that he hurt her during sex: physical abuse is something she can cope with, but mental abuse is unbearable), who drives her to madness, which in turn drives her to try to kill him. Note the injuries she inflicts upon him: she crushes his nuts, bores a hole through his leg, attaches a grindstone to his leg through the hole that she made, then stabs him repeatedly with a shovel and finally with a pair of scissors. All implements and wound-types are (or can be read as) deeply symbolic. Why crush his nuts if he hasn't in some way violated her? Why puncture his flesh, why open a new hole in his body, if he had not inflicted something similar upon her? Remember, her thesis is: 'Gynocide' or the history of the torment inflicted by men upon women through the ages. One's thesis - especially in a film where nothing is accidental - reflects upon our own desires and fears, preoccupations and obsessions. So clearly, the abuse of women by men is something that is personally significant to her.
In other words, the viewer's problematic position is that they will be drawn (whether they resist this pull or not is a different matter) to sympathise with the husband (poor man saddled with a crazy woman), when the person we should be feeling for (sympathy, empathy, love, whatever you prefer) is actually the woman, the character that the film ostensibly asks you to reject/hate/root against.

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