Melancholia (15) + Presentation by Valerio Lucarini

In this edition of Science on Screen, we visit Lars von Trier‘s (Dogville, Dancer in the Dark) profound, visceral vision of depression and destruction in Melancholia.

The movie follows two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), as the planet Melancholia hurtles towards Earth. The movie is divided into two parts. The first part follows Justine’s doomed wedding day. The second part focuses on the sisters’ different responses to the situation: Justine finds peace in the thought of imminent destruction while Claire falls into a spiral of anxiety.

A major focus of contemporary science deals with the understanding of critical transitions – situations, like the close encounter of Earth and Melancholia, where forecasting the final outcome is extremely challenging. Valerio Lucarini’s presentation will focus on the challenges of prediction in the vicinity of critical transitions, and how this is reflected in the film’s climactic structure, which was a direct inspiration for the scientific paper: V. Lucarini and T. Bodai, Edge states in the climate system: exploring global instabilities and critical transitions, Nonlinearity 30 R32 (2017).

Valerio Lucarini is Professor of Statistical Mechanics at the University of Reading, a research fellow at the University of Hamburg and involved in multiple international collaborations.  His research aims at understanding the behaviour of complex systems – such as the earth and planets – and developing new mathematical methods based upon statistical mechanics and dynamical systems theory. He is also engaged in research activities dealing with climate risk, with a specific regional focus on South Asia.

Date & Time

13th November 2018


Cinema 2