Melancholia is a realistic "what-if" science fiction, set in roughly the time we live in. The whole plot is centered around the concept of a planet approaching Earth. Being what it is, why would they choose to ignore the effects of gravity as the planet approaches?

The moon is a relatively small satellite and is quite far from the Earth, but still it makes a noticeable difference to the tide. Now, think of a big planet approaching...

If you stop for a second and really consider the effect it would have on Earth's gravity. It would probably have freed up a whole lot of Earth's mass on the side that it was approaching, such that the surface of our planet and much more beneath would have been ejected from the atmosphere and drawn to the approaching planet. Or, in the very least, gravity would have greatly decreased.

So, how come they didn't even explore a grand finale where the characters are ejected?

I found it terribly unrealistic. Was it a choice of saving on special effects? Didn't the people involved in production even consider the physics of it? Are there interviews done with them surrounding this issue? Or, is it a non-issue as far as entertainment is concerned (i.e. it's not relevant in this movie/genre)?


3 Answers 3


I think your presumption that the film portrays realistic sci-fi may be misplaced. The extensive use of symbolism and prologue scenes suggest that it is allegorical. While I usually agree that having authentic situations or plausible science is important, in this film I found it easy to dismiss with that expectation. There is an analysis of the Justine chapter here that offers you another perspective and may help clarify my reasoning.


In similar fashion, we have no explanation of the motive of the Kirsten Dunst's character to crash her own wedding too. We have also seen the slow-motioned flying objects in the prologue already so I do not think Lars von Trier tried to save financially on special effects budget.

I think he tried to focus more on the emotional effect. The sight of the protagonists being swallowed by the approaching blue moon was heartbreaking. Anyway, I guess they being helpless in the air would have achieved the same effect but it was wholly the director's aesthetic choice.

  • 1
    Oh, we have the motive for Justines behaviour: she was depressive, and depressive people can show self-destructive behaviour.
    – Mnementh
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 22:20
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    That does not explain exactly why she would have sex with a stranger in a golf course. To me, her depression as a motive for everything is a little too far-fetched.
    – puri
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 22:57
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    I thought myself this sex-scene was a little bit too much. But it also can be explained along the lines of self-destructive behaviour.
    – Mnementh
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 23:01
  • I think you have a good point though. Why wasn't anything at all shown from the rest of the world, where pandemic surely has broken out? The story is about how two very different yet closely related people deal with a disaster. The entire first part even exists (imo) to justify the second part: to create a contrast between the sisters' personalities. It's not a movie about global pandemic and disaster. It's a movie about the human psyche, and especially that of a depressive. Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 16:49

I understand that disbelief must be suspended in any movie, but for realistic value, to ignore the atmosphere being sucked away with the gravity is highly overlooked. We would be dead way before it hit us.

  • Oh, and where was Powerman 5000 for the ending song. Just kidding.
    – Amy
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 14:25

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