The House That Jack Built

I am still really not sure how I feel about this film. What I am sure about, is that it isn’t meant to be read literally. This isn’t a film about a serial killer. It’s a film about violence in creation and it might be the closest thing to a mea culpa we’re ever going to get from von Trier. There is a lot to find offensive and disgusting in this film - animal cruelty, child killing, violence against women (including one particularly sexualized scene of extreme violence.) There are monologues bemoaning the “criminalization” of being a man, about the creative projects of fascists. He’s provoking us, intentionally setting us up for shock, disgust, anger. No one needs to put themselves through watching this. But I did and weirdly want to watch it again. I think there is a lot happening behind the shock and disgust. I think he actually has something to say about art and violence and even his own destructive and harmful behaviour. I want to better understand why he’s drawn a parallel between Jack and Dante - (Virgil appears here as spirit guide just as he does in the Divine Comedy.) I feel like I need another viewing to get all this. There is a so much going on. But is it worth the effort? I’m not sure why I want to see and understand so badly. None of us owe von Trier anything. But it got under my skin anyway. What is the relationship between creation, destruction and violence? This question doesn’t want to leave my brain just yet. I cannot recommend this film to others, but I can’t dismiss it either.