At first I was darkly delighted by the few scenes of graphic violence (some involving close-ups of male and female genital mutilation), mutely amused by the more numerous scenes of what looked like slow-motion dream sequences, and utterly perplexed by the story itself.
For one thing, why is the film called Antichrist? What does the grief of losing an infant child have to do with the systematic extermination of women in the 16th century? I left it alone and went to bed.
Then I got up this morning.
Once I had a chance to not think about it on a conscious level -- and even dream about it -- the thrust of the film was suddenly not lost to me. There are still questions, even after I drilled the Wikipedia page for clues, but I feel like I'm finally able to gain some purchase on a concept that's proven for years to be as elusive as it is attractive: the essence of evil.
Evil is not a bastard spawn of faraway realms of demons and fire; it is not a supernatural force that drives unforgivable acts to their completion. It is us. It is you and I and everyone else who lives now or ever has lived. We are the beginning and the end of evil. The unspeakable acts we commit to one another are unprecedented in the age of the universe and are repeated nowhere else in all of existence.
That's the takeaway. There is something rotten in humanity. Men and women are basically evil, and nature -- the swirling chaos in which we find ourselves, and to the mercy to which we are forever bound -- isn't evil, but is a putrid and unforgiving beast that churns and spits with complete indifference to our plight. In other words, as the talking fox put it, "Chaos reigns."
Have a nice day!