Lars von Trier, Denmark / Sweden / France / Germany / Italy / Spain, 2011


This film tells the story of the last days of earth, soon to be destroyed by a planet that’s about to ram into it and make it explode.  The last scene of the film features three characters - a child, his aunt and his mother. The two adults build a shelter out of sticks for the boy, which they find in a shady forest nearby. They only manage to construct the skeleton of the shelter, as there isn’t enough time to find leaves with which to cover it. His aunt tells him that they’re going to build a magic cabin to protect themselves from the encroaching danger. This allows her to take action that is practical, manual and symbolic, whilst faced with complete powerlessness to change anything about the planet’s impending doom. By making this shelter it gives her the power to allow her son to focus on things other than the destruction of the planet, which his father told him was inevitable. 

Building the shelter in such a way juxtaposes humanity’s end with its beginning, it recalls the moment when the early humans left the caves and natural shelters that had been their safety and ventured out to make the first human structures, shelters just like this. Humanity started with this very gesture, the making of a shelter by hand, that would protect them against the dangers of the natural world, in which to feel part of a community in a space symbolically isolated from the rest of the world.