During the Epilogue, in the the last scenes of Lars von Trier's Antichrist, hundreds of blurred-faced women were ascending towards the hero.
Who are these women and what is their significance? Is there any official word for their significance?
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While this film, in general, defies attempts to analyze it, here are a few (hopefully not too jumbled) thoughts which are a composite from reading many analyses of this film, a film rich in incoherent and possibly unintended(!) religious symbolism:
While She came to believe that women were inherently evil, He was repulsed by this idea. The trip to Eden was about exorcising the evil which She had incorporated into her being during her studies ("masculine" knowledge attained from outside). She crippled her son, in Eden She tries to cripple her husband; She tries to neuter both of them, removing the organs which both created the son and were responsible for his death.
The women at the end, who were perhaps somehow the same as the fragments of women entwined in the tree roots earlier in the film, are climbing - Heaven is up. They are dressed - leaving Eden. The mood is peaceful. It feels like the women have been released by the death of She. There are references in the film to witchcraft, and one has to remember that women who were accused of witchcraft were often mystics or inclined to intuitive knowledge rather than actual "witches." This could be seen as a release of "feminine knowledge" which in the time of witch hunts was seen as evil, but which is really the powerful intuition we all access at times - knowledge from inside. The whole Eden story is about eating from the tree of knowledge (and there are many ways to interpret that one!).
In the Bible version of the story, Eden is the work of God and eating the fruit means Adam and Eve are cast from the garden for yielding to Satan's temptation. This film is called Antichrist. It is a story that presumes Eden is the work of Satan, and the expulsion this time can be seen as a positive (in traditional terms), a move toward God instead of away from God. Note that he is eating berries on his way out - the bramble a symbol of Christ (think thorny crown).
As noted in another question about this film, Lars von Trier wrote this film in the depths of depression. It served as his means to survival, forcing him to get out of bed to write ten pages each day. In one interview he says:
"Truthfully, I can only say I was driven to make the film, that these images came to me and I did not question them. My only defence is: 'Forgive me, for I know not what I do.'" This precipitates a bout of giggling. "I am really the wrong person to ask what the film means or why it is as it is," he says finally, "It is a bit like asking the chicken about the chicken soup."
The symbols in this film are from deep within the psyche of the artist, but his joke suggest a Biblical theme. I don't think you will find an authoritative answer to your question.
This analytical discussion of the film between Rob White (Film Quarterly) and philosopher Nina Power is an interesting place to start.
It depends on how the film is viewed as a whole. Many of the techniques and themes point towards abortion and how it affects men and women. She is torn by the abortion, regrets it every day, is plagued by it. He really couldn't care less. The death of her is freedom for him, so as he walks down the hill he sees sexual freedom in the form of many women rushing at him.
At least that's my take.
I feel the women walking towards the protagonist, had been freed via the death of She. Previously they'd been trapped in the prison of Eden.
The fact that he stopped walking leads me to believe that the women approaching intended to harm him, if they were simply strolling up to freedom from their prison of Eden he would have continued down the hill. But the disturbing image of their heads bobbing at the edge of the hill filled me with a sense of dread, I was expecting to see them swarm towards him instantly, and by the look on his face, he did too. Their true intent is unclear, which I think it was intended to be. There's so many elements to consider; the witch hunts, the postpartum depression and the seemingly intentional crippling of her child and the general theme of the view of gender as presented by the characters.
On the one hand the shot captured at the top of this page feels empowering on its own but when in the context of the film and with the images of his burning wife and the naked bodies strewn through the woods still fresh in your head it's hard to believe that it's a happy ending.
I couldn't find anything from an official source, but I think that it's pretty safe to say that since the antagonist believed that all women were inherently evil, these ladies represent that belief and I believe that they intend to kill the Hero.
This film was so wonderfully exquisite in its simplicity.
I was left to consider the true feelings of a mother and her child. Many mothers I have known have confessed a compulsion to rid themselves of their child.
That's how I view the ending
My thoughts about this film are rather different than most as I am looking at this film from a christian point of view. The film is named emphatically and simply Antichrist. I feel that this film is about an individual (man) and the circumstances that are preparing him to become the Antichrist. The reason for this comes from a verse in the book of Daniel, chapter 11: verse 37:
Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
It is like an Anti-Garden of which a man who loves and is deeply concerned for his wife is set on a path that will end up with him eventually hating her and maybe hating all women. In the end succumbs to this ideology that his wife has embraced. Notice that the faces of those women at the epilogue are all blurred out as if they have no identity with him for he regards them not. He has had the means by which he can have children taken away so that none can come after him or say supplant him.
If you read in the book of Revelation chapter 17 you read of the Beast and the women who rides upon the scarlet beast is Babylon the whore and the beast turns on her and kills her. The Beast is the Antichrist and his one world empire which is happening or becoming right now. The world is becoming One through the internet.
The internet has broken down all ethnic barriers and has spread through all the earth. Anyway that is all i have to say and I hope it adds an interesting slant to the topic.
My take on it was they are all the women killed for practicing witchcraft throughout the ages, a commentary by the director on the persecution of women.
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