When the filming started, Lars von Trier had just left a mental hospital where he stayed for two months, receiving treatment for depression. He had not completely recovered at the time and was even unable to operate the camera as he usually does, which made him very frustrated. He repeatedly excused himself to the actors for being in the mental condition he was, but, according to him, the actors supported him and throughout production, he did not experience any grave problems, except for his own condition.
This movie received a special anti-award from the ecumenical jury at Cannes. The jury, which typically awards a film that promotes spiritual and humanist values, decided to award this film an anti-award for its misogynistic views. However, Lars von Trier did not confirm in a later interview that he was a misogynist, saying he loved women and understood Her better than Him.
The aria being sung during the Prologue is called Lascia ch'io pianga from Handel's opera 'Rodelinda'. The libretto translates from the Italian as: Let me weep my cruel fate, and I sigh for liberty. May sorrow break these chains of my sufferings, for pity's sake.
'Antichrist' was originally scheduled for production in 2005, but its executive producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen accidentally revealed the planned ending. Lars von Trier was furious and decided to delay the shoot so he could rewrite the script.
According to Lars von Trier, he tried his best to make a horror film but did not succeed and the same happened to him before when he tried to make a musical and the result was Dancer in the Dark (2000).
In 2007 Lars von Trier announced that he was suffering from a depression, and that it was possible that he never would be able to make another film. "I assume that 'Antichrist' will be my next film. But right now I don't know," he told the Danish newspaper 'Politiken'. During an early casting attempt, English actors who had come to Copenhagen had to be sent home, while Trier was crying because his poor condition did not allow him to meet them.
The story is divided into four chapters, "Grief", "Pain (Chaos Reigns)", "Despair (Gynocide)" and "The Three Beggars", in addition to a prologue and an epilogue, all displayed over abstract designs by Danish artist Per Kirkeby.
Lars von Trier regarded his post-depression version of the script as some kind of an exercise for himself, to see if he had recovered enough to be able to work again. Trier has also made references to August Strindberg and his Inferno Crisis in the 1890s, comparing it to his own writing under difficult mental circumstances: "was Antichrist my Inferno Crisis?"
Several notable names appear in the credits as having assisted Trier in the writing. Danish writers/directors Per Fly and Nikolaj Arcel are listed as script consultants, and writer/director Anders Thomas Jensen as story supervisor. Also credited are researchers dedicated to fields including "misogyny", "anxiety", "horror films" and "theology".
Producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen revealed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival that he originally wanted the film to be released in 3D. However, Lars von Trier disapproved of this. Also, the idea of making his next film, Melancholia (2011) in 3D, was immediately scrapped, although it seemed to be normal and obvious after the 3D boom upon the release of Avatar (2009).