During the Cannes Film Festival press conference for this movie, Writer and Director Lars von Trier responded to a question about the use of Wagner's music, by calling himself a Nazi, and saying that he sympathized with Hitler. Despite apologizing for his remarks, he was banned from the remainder of the festival, and declared a persona non grata by festival organizers, a first in the history of the festival.
The painting seen in the prologue is Pieter Breughel's Hunters in the Snow (1565). This painting also prominently featured in Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris (1972). Lars von Trier often stated Tarkovsky greatly inspires him. He even dedicated Antichrist (2009) to the Russian director.
John (Kiefer Sutherland) mentions several times that the golf course on their property is eighteen holes. Near the end, as Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) walks on the course through the hail, she passes a marker flag that reads "19".
The advertisement for which Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is supposed to come up with a tagline, is based on an oil painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder titled "The Land of Cockaigne", an unflattering portrayal of excess and spiritual emptiness in a mythical land of plenty.
John Everett Millais' painting "Ophelia" and Pieter Breugel's "The Land of Cockaigne" are referenced in the images of this movie. Also, both paintings can be seen in the art books that Justine uses to rearrange the bookshelves in the library.
Writer and Director Lars von Trier cites Jean Genet's play "The Maids" as a source for elements of the story, adding that Penélope Cruz had originally suggested that he direct an adaptation of the play.
Lars von Trier said he got inspiration by the Nibiru Cataclysm, a possible encounter between Earth and a planetary object. An event also referenced in the Bible (Genesis 6:13), where God said to Noah: "I am going to put an end to all people, for the Earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the Earth."
Justine's text about the loneliness and evilness of the Earth, about to be destroyed, refers to Genesis 6:13. If Justine is right, this may explain the scientific implausibilities of Melancholia's movement towards Earth.
When Kirsten Dunst was asked what song made her cry in a Spin interview, she answered, "10 Mile Stereo" by Beach House. It was a song, she noted, that she listened to over and over again during the filming of this movie to prepare her for work.