Nymphomaniac [vol. I & II] – The Extended Director’s Cut (2013)

Because Nymphomaniac essentially is one big story, it feels proper to speak about both volumes together as a whole, rather than pick at them individually. The thought of a film being split into two parts usually makes me cringe. You can’t help but to feel like it’s a cheap ploy to get you to pay the ticket price twice for one movie. Not that it couldn’t be done, plenty of movies have done it in the past. There just are concerns about whether or not the narrative structure even naturally lends itself to be the split to two, self contained movies.  In this instance, they work relatively well as a whole, and as two different, separated parts of the same story. There simply is too much material to fit into one movie, and cutting it down to two or three hours would do  disservice to the story.  Nymphomaniac is structured into individual chapters, so the cut in the middle isn’t at all abrupt. It’s more like a natural intermission point. The movie does still suffer a little from being split in half, but that is mostly because you cannot help but to compare the two volumes to each other, and the second part just doesn’t have the same magnetic attraction to it like the first volume did. Vol. 2 is still very captivating on its own way, it just no longer provides the same type of fun titillation and becomes much more bleak and depressing experience to witness. The e story basically shifts gears and depicts the nastier side of Joe’s sex addiction: Her years spanning sexual activity has rendered her completely unable to experience pleasure through intercourse, but she is still the victim of her insatiable desires, driving her to new extremes that eventually wreck her life completely. You can’t help but to feel uncomfortable, as it all slowly unfolds in front of your eyes.

All that said, it was well worth spend five and a half hours (plus little breaks in the middle) on a Sunday watching the extended director’s cut to experience von Trier’s vision fully realized. It is a very exhausting experience to undergo mentally, to say the least. I had watched the theatrical cut last year, so it was interesting to see what that extra hour and change in running time would offer. Realizing now how small some of the edits were, not properly showing genitalia, etc. I couldn’t help but to think the theatrical cut was a bit prudish. We’re all adults here, after all, or at least I hope we are. If you’re willing to sit down and watch a movie called Nymphomaniac, one would assume you were able to handle, or at least test if you can, some explicity in sex scenes. It was only the home made that abortion Joe performs on herself that I can kinda understand why it was not in the theatrical cut. That entire portion was actually very jaw dropping and shocking to watch, and I don’t really get fazed by much.

Before I wrap this up, I suppose I also have to talk about the ending. Originally I, like many others, simply interpreted the ending as one giant middle finger to the audience by von Trier. As if he was purposefully trolling us. But watching the story unfold for the second time, I actually began to interpret Seligman’s actions to symbolize the corruptive nature of sex. Joe’s tale is in essence slowly tainting and destroying Seligman’s innocence, which then leads to the dark ending. Although the ending aggravates me, I must emphasize that it does not ruin the movie. I still quite like the it as a whole, even after seeing for the second time. The story has more than enough substance to it to make it a one of a kind memorable experience. It’s pretty damn impressive, even if it is a movie you find yourself not eager to revisit very soon.


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