Wagnerism in Cinematography: Alexander Sokurov and Lars von Trier


Richard Wagner’s music plays an important role in European and American cinematog¬raphy. In more than 700 films Wagner’s musi¬cal themes are used — first of all, «The Wed¬ding March» (from «Lohengrin») and «The Ride of Valkyries». However, we can’t talk about the influence of Wagner’s philosophy and aesthetics on most of these movies. But there are two outstanding exceptions: Alexan¬der Sokurov’s «Moloch» and Lars von Trier’s «Melancholia». Not only the music, but also the subject, style and central ideas of these films were inspired by Wagner’s musical dra¬mas. Sokurov used Wagner’s music only in few works. «Moloch» is one of them, and it shows the director’s deep understanding of spirit of Wagner’s «Gotterdammerung». On the contrary, Trier’s wagnerism permeates most of his works, including early films («The Element of Crime» and «Epidemic»), but the climax of dialogue between Trier and Wagner is «Melancholia», based on the main idea of «Tristan and Isolde» — Liebestod.