In 2018, another scandalous film by Lars von Trier, The House That Jack Built, was released. The thriller is very realistic and cruel, causing the viewer to dislike, tremble, and feel hopeless. What is the meaning of the movie “The House That Jack Built”? And why is it so difficult to watch the Danish director’s masterpiece to the end?
The meaning of The House That Jack Built is revealed as the story progresses. So, let’s remember what the thriller is about.
Jack is trying to build his house while killing people. At the crime scene, the protagonist takes photographs of the dead, which he hangs on his mirror. He puts the corpses in the freezer.
The maniac tells the guide through hell (Verge) 5 of the most striking cases out of 6 dozen crimes committed.
Jack sees a stuck car on the side of the road. The owner of the car broke the jack. At the request of a stranger, the hero takes her to the workshop and back. The jack breaks again. On the way to the workshop, the woman claims that Jack does not look like a maniac, he will not be able to kill – he is just a squishy. The protagonist immediately proves the opposite – he kills the first victim with a broken tool.
Disguised as an insurance agent, Jack enters the home of an elderly woman whose husband has died. Suffocates her. The corpse is wrapped in a bag, carried into the trunk. The police drive by. The maniac hides the corpse in the bushes. He tells the policeman about strange noises in the house. While the sergeant inspects the woman’s accommodation, Jack ties the corpse to the van and drives off. There is a trace of blood on the road, but the past rain washes away the traces.
On a note! Lars von Trier planned to make a series that tells the stories of various killers. However, he subsequently announced the release of the last full-length project with one main character.
A woman with two sons and Jack came to a picnic. For the hero, this is hunting according to the rules: first you need to kill the youngest cub, then the eldest, then the mother. When the children are killed, the mother and Jack sit down to eat. The maniac offers his mother to feed her dead sons. After lunch, he shoots a woman from a tower. He lays out all three in the form of a sacrificial ritual. He makes the younger grumbler a “merry fellow” by inserting sticks in his eyes and a piece of iron in his mouth.
One day, Jack confesses to his girlfriend Jacqueline that he has killed more than 60 people. The heroine is trying to communicate this information to the police standing next to the house, the maniac confirms what was said. But the policeman sends drunk Jacqueline and Jack home to sleep. At home, “Mr. Sophistication” kills a girl calling for help and cuts off her breasts. He puts one on the glass of a policeman, and makes himself a wallet out of the other.
In the freezer, Jack gathered 5 men. I tied them to an iron post so that their heads lay on the same horizontal line. He checked whether one all-metal bullet would shoot 5 goals at once – this is how the Nazis saved bullets in the war. In the next room, he meets Verge. A new acquaintance reminds the maniac of his dream – building a house. Jack builds a house out of dead frozen people. Verge praises him and calls him to follow him into the hole under the dead house. At this moment, the police are trying to get into the room – the hero jumps into the hole.
Together with Verge, the killer travels through the circles of hell. The bridge to heaven is broken. Trying to get over the wall to the side of the world, the maniac falls into hellish lava.
Plot Explanation & The meaning of the movie
What is the meaning of the movie “The House That Jack Built”? The thriller looks into the soul of one of the serial maniacs with obsessive-compulsive mental disorder.
The protagonist always dreamed of being an architect, but his mother persuaded him to become an engineer. Despite his sharp mind and ability to science, most of all Jack still loved art. Someone creates paintings, music, sculptures, architectural structures. And the hero of the film preferred to do evil. He was best at killing – he did it beautifully, subtly, each time in a new way. Since childhood, the hero loved to mock, which is shown by the scene with cutting off the paw of a defenseless duckling.
God Himself seemed to help Jack in his deeds:
- The rain washes away the traces of blood from the road.
- None of the neighbors respond to the screams of the victims.
- The police ignore all evidence. Even the sincere confession of the hero does not matter.
Therefore, over time, the maniac ceases to be careful. He no longer considers it necessary to clean up the traces of the crime. He returns several times to make the photography of his masterpieces more successful. It seems to the hero that the punishment will never come to him, because he is the Almighty, the Creator.
It is interesting! During the premiere of the psychological thriller at the Cannes Film Festival, more than 100 spectators left the hall. Those that remained, at the end for 6 minutes, stood up and applauded the genius of the director. The House That Jack Built is a heavy, brutal film with deep meaning.
The whole horror is that the murders, according to Jack, are a necessity. He doesn’t regret what happened. The hero compares himself with the creator of history (Hitler), music (Glenn Gould), the creators of wines. He considers the death of people as a blessing for them, a sacrifice in the name of the service of their bodies to art.
The dead, like frozen, dried or rotten grapes in the manufacture of wine, become the material for the production of something divine. At the end, the viewer can finally see the creation of a maniac – a house of the dead. Hence the meaning of the film’s title, The House That Jack Built.
The hero could not find the right material for his project. He destroyed his first wooden buildings 3 times. The bodies of people turned out to be the best material for his work of art.
Verge is a prototype of the ancient Roman poet Virgil from the Divine Comedy, who patiently listens to the hero, argues with him, asks him questions about childhood, family, love. All of Jack’s beliefs are questioned and even ridiculed by Verge. He tries to convince the maniac. Tells Jack that true art is made with love. Evil cannot contribute to the emergence of masterpieces.
Virgil leads the killer through the 9 circles of hell. After all the conversations with the conductor, Jack begins to doubt his innocence. Hence the tears in his eyes when he looks at the mowers.
What is the essence of the ending
The meaning of the ending of the film “The House That Jack Built” is that everyone is responsible for their actions and actions before God. If a person kills his own kind, he will certainly go to hell. No matter how beautifully, sophisticatedly, uniquely he did evil, no matter how lucky the murderer was during his lifetime, after death he will appear before the court along with all sinners. Kara will inevitably overtake him.
Jack and here, in the Underworld, is trying to cheat. He wants to get to heaven along the wall above the infernal lava. But you cannot deceive God – he knows who deserves peace, and who must suffer after death for grave sins committed.
The meaning of the film “The House That Jack Built” is that the criminal must answer for the murders, if not before the law, then before God. No one has the right to take the life of another, even for the benefit of art. This is a lesson from the director to the self-proclaimed “masters of fate.” Spectators Lars von Trier urges to be vigilant and not voluntarily agree to the role of a victim of maniacs.