Femininity and Gender in Lars von Trier's Depression Trilogy

Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work


Hood College Arts and Humanities


Hood College Humanities

Citation of Original Publication


Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States


Both praised and criticized, Lars von Trier’s Depression Trilogy—a film trilogy that includes Antichrist (2009), Melancholia (2011), and Nymphomaniac (2013)— provides an exploration of femininity and gender roles. This study explores how von Trier depicts the binary genders through their traditional roles while constructing a particular femininity in his female characters. Certainly, von Trier’s construction of the female characters is problematic on many levels: the projection of the director onto the female subject, their hypersexualization, or the victimization as part of the director’s process of creation are just a few. By analyzing the depiction of the female protagonists of the collection, who stand in opposition to their male counterparts, I demonstrate how in many instances von Trier’s subversive construction of his female protagonists is flawed and falls short of any feminist statement the director may be trying to attain. Thus, the goal of this study is to examine the ways in which von Trier constructs this flawed femininity that seems to promote gender distinction and a patriarchal view of women that endorses misogyny. In doing so, this study also points at the aesthetic and artistic value of the director’s oeuvre and the amplitude of interpretations of von Trier’s works.