“I cannot dismiss Antichrist,” Roger Ebert has written. “It is a real film. It will remain in my mind. Von Trier has reached me and shaken me. It is up to me to decide what that means.

“I think the film has something to do with religious feeling. It is obvious to anyone who saw Breaking the Waves that von Trier’s sense of spirituality is intense, and that he can envision the supernatural as literally present in the world. His reference is Catholicism. Raised by a communist mother and a socialist father in a restrictive environment, he was told as an adult that his father was not his natural parent, and renounced that man’s Judaism to convert, at the age of 30, to the Catholic church. It was at about the same age that von Trier founded the Dogma movement, with its monkish asceticism.

“If you have to ask what a film symbolizes, it doesn’t. With this one, I didn’t have to ask. It told me. I believe Antichrist may be an exercise in alternative theology: von Trier’s version of those passages in Genesis where Man is cast from Eden and Satan assumes a role in the world.”