Melancholia Movie Poster Image


Emotionally brutal end-of-the-world drama.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 136 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

In a very grim movie in which nothing matters and nothing can be done, family is shown to be an important source of comfort.

Positive role models

The main character is very depressed, somewhat destructive, and seemingly incapable of functioning in her everyday life, but when the end of the Earth is imminent, she's the one who stays the calmest and most logical, selflessly providing comfort to a young boy.


The movie is all about the impending destruction of the Earth; there's an overall sense of terror, and a young boy is involved. Characters also yell and argue a great deal.


The main character is seen fully naked in more than one scene. She passionately kisses her husband on their wedding day (almost foreplay). But at one point she also drags a younger man off to a golf course for some rough and unexpected (perhaps forced?) sex (they remain clothed, and she climbs on top of him).


Language is infrequent, but occasional strong words include "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "damn," and "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink heavily at a wedding. One character drinks champagne while awaiting the end of the world.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this drama about the end of the world from controversial Danish director Lars von Trier is emotionally overwhelming and very depressing, with a strong sense of mortal terror. Most of the movie's conflicts consist of arguing and yelling, but the impending destruction of the entire world is very intense. The other big issue is sexuality, with the main character (played by Kirsten Dunst) appearing fully naked in more than one scene and having sex with a younger man (not her husband) on her wedding day. Language includes infrequent use of "f--k" and "s--t," and characters occasionally drink alcohol, mostly at a wedding.

What's the story?

After a prologue showing some strange atmospheric phenomena, the first part of MELANCHOLIA introduces viewers to Justine (Kirsten Dunst) on the day of her marriage to kindhearted Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). Over the course of the evening, Justine grows increasingly moody and upset and starts alienating everyone around her. The second part of the movie takes place some time later; Justine's depression has worsened, and she's come to live with her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). A rogue planet, Melancholia, is seemingly on a collision course with Earth, though Claire's husband (Kiefer Sutherland) asserts that it will be a near miss. As events turn darker and grimmer, Justine finds herself drawn to Claire's young son, perhaps looking for one final human connection.

Is it any good?


As a drama, Melancholia often goes over the top, most notably in its super slow-mo prologue. It also includes little moments of welcome, albeit misplaced, humor. As science fiction, it's obscure and inert; the threatening planet is little more than a vague theory and a convenient plot device. But as a work of art that evokes a strong emotional response, the movie succeeds wildly. It's impossible not to be moved in a profound way by the small events that take place within the larger one.

Controversial Danish director Lars von Trier has long probed the darkest of places, most notably those surrounding women's social and sexual power, but now he takes on nothing less than the end of the world itself. Ironically, in this direst of moments, von Trier's latest heroine also seems to find her greatest moment of triumph: reaching out to another human being in greater need than herself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie addresses the idea of the end of the world. How does the movie evoke terror and dread? How does it compare to other movies' take on the topic?

  • What makes the main character so depressed? How does she deal with her problem? What are some other ways she could deal with it?

  • Why does Justine use sex and nudity to deal with her depression?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 11, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:March 13, 2012
Cast:Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Kirsten Dunst
Director:Lars von Trier
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Run time:136 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:some graphic nudity, sexual content and language

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byrebo344 July 1, 2015

The end is near.

Melancholia is a great movie. Stellar performances and excellent visuals. Grade: B+
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written byOxbow January 5, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel melancholic

This is one of those movies that really made an impression on me after watching. Yes, it's an art film, and if you enjoy a good art film this should not be missed. Without giving much away, it tells the story of a wealthy family who must deal with the fact that a rogue planet is on a collision course with earth. Don't expect an apocalyptic CGI spectacle. This ain't that kind of film. There is brief nudity, but not in a sexual way, and a suicide that occurs off screen. The specter of imminent doom may be a bit much for young viewers, but they'll probably be bored by the film's leisurely pace and won't stick around to watch the film's climax.
Adult Written byDanny21 February 26, 2016

Not suitable for people under 15.

What other families should know
Too much swearing