Dogme 95

Dogme 95 was a film-making movement begun by the Danish film directors Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring, and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen in 1995. Its goal was to ‘purify’ filmmaking and rescue it from ‘bourgeois romanticism’. Its provocative manifesto was announced by von Trier at a conference in Paris held to celebrate 100 years of cinema and consider its second century. (http://www.moviemail.com/film-shop/collection/509-A-Beginner-s-Guide-to-Dogme-95/)

The manifesto:

DOGMA 95 is a collection of film directors founded in Copenhagen in spring 1995.

DOGMA 95 has the expressed goal of countering “certain tendencies” in the cinema today.

DOGMA 95 is a rescue action!

In 1960 enough was enough! The movie was dead and called for resurrection. The goal was correct but the means were not! The new wave proved to be a ripple that washed ashore and turned to muck.

Slogans of individualism and freedom created works for a while, but no changes. The wave was up for grabs, like the directors themselves. The wave was never stronger than the men behind it. The anti-bourgeois cinema itself became bourgeois, because the foundations upon which its theories were based was the bourgeois perception of art. The auteur concept was bourgeois romanticism from the very start and thereby… false!

To DOGMA 95 cinema is not individual!

Today a technological storm is raging, the result of which will be the ultimate democratization of the cinema. For the first time, anyone can make movies. But the more accessible the medium becomes, the more important the avant-garde. It is no accident that the phrase “avant-garde” has military connotations. Discipline is the answer… we must put our films into uniform, because the individual film will be decadent by definition!

DOGMA 95 counters the individual film by the principle of presenting an indisputable set of rules known as THE VOW OF CHASTITY.

In 1960 enough was enough! The movie had been cosmeticized to death, they said; yet since then the use of cosmetics has exploded.

The “supreme” task of the decadent film-makers is to fool the audience. Is that what we are so proud of? Is that what the “100 years” have brought us? Illusions via which emotions can be communicated?… By the individual artist’s free choice of trickery?

Predictability (dramaturgy) has become the golden calf around which we dance. Having the characters’ inner lives justify the plot is too complicated, and not “high art”. As never before, the superficial action and the superficial movie are receiving all the praise.

The result is barren. An illusion of pathos and an illusion of love.

To DOGMA 95 the movie is not illusion!

Today a technological storm is raging of which the result is the elevation of cosmetics to God. By using new technology anyone at any time can wash the last grains of truth away in the deadly embrace of sensation. The illusions are everything the movie can hide behind.

THE   VOW OF CHASTITY

I swear to submit to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by DOGMA 95:

  1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must      not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a      location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images      or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is      being shot.)
  3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or      immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
  4. The film must be in color. Special lighting is not      acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be      cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.)
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders,      weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden.      (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.

Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste! I am no longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a “work”, as I regard the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations.

Thus I make my VOW OF CHASTITY. Copenhagen, Monday 13 March 1995 On behalf of DOGMA 95

Lars von Trier & Thomas Vinterberg

 

The rules in action:

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FAQ about Dogme 95 films

List of Dogme films

Dogme #1 – Festen by Vinterberg

A darkly comic journey into forbidden family territory. No one can ignore a person like Danish patriarch Helge Klingenfeldt. So on his sixtieth birthday, a celebration is required. Friends and relatives scurry to the country estate. Eventually, every family’s secrets will come out. And since his twin sister’s death two months ago, prodigal son Christian is more haunted than usual. The time has come for the darkest family skeleton to be revealed, and it must be done in their father’s style – with flair, and malice. IMDB

 

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From Dogme to Dogville – films of Lars Von Trier

The Idiots

A group of perfectly intelligent young people decide to react to society’s cult of an aimless, non-creative and non-responsible form of intelligence by living together in a community of “idiots”. Their main activity becomes going out into the world of “normal” people and pretending to be mentally retarded. They take advantage of this situation to create anarchy everywhere they go and try by every possible means to make people annoyed, disturbed, miserable, ridiculous, angered, and shocked. The films start as they recruit a new lost soul and introduced her to their megalomaniac leader. Written by Matthieu Navarro IMDB

Breaking The Waves

Drama set in a repressed, deeply religious community in the north of Scotland, where a naive young woman named Bess McNeil meets and falls in love with Danish oil-rig worker Jan. Bess and Jan are deeply in love but, when Jan returns to his rig, Bess prays to God that he returns for good. Jan does return, his neck broken in an accident aboard the rig. Because of his condition, Jan and Bess are now unable to enjoy a sexual relationship and Jan urges Bess to take another lover and tell him the details. As Bess becomes more and more deviant in her sexual behavior, the more she comes to believe that her actions are guided by God and are helping Jan recover. Written by Jonathan Broxton  IMDB

Dancer in The Dark

Selma is a Czechoslovakian immigrant, a single mother working in a factory in rural America. Her salvation is her passion for music, specifically, the all-singing, all-dancing numbers found in classic Hollywood musicals. Selma harbors a sad secret: she is losing her eyesight and her son Gene stands to suffer the same fate if she can’t put away enough money to secure him an operation. When a desperate neighbor falsely accuses Selma of stealing his savings, the drama of her life escalates to a tragic finale. IMDB

Dogville

The beautiful fugitive, Grace, arrives in the isolated township of Dogville on the run from a team of gangsters. With some encouragement from Tom, the self-appointed town spokesman, the little community agrees to hide her and in return, Grace agrees to work for them. However, when a search sets in, the people of Dogville demand a better deal in exchange for the risk of harboring poor Grace and she learns the hard way that in this town, goodness is relative. But Grace has a secret and it is a dangerous one. Dogville may regret it ever began to bare its teeth… IMDB

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Melancholia

On the night of her wedding to Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), Justine (Kirsten Dunst) struggles with premonitions of a blue planet called Melancholia, on a collision course with the Earth. Ironically, while the ensuing oblivion brings on a condition of depressive, Melancholia, Justine’s sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), struggles to maintain composure and calm around her as impending disaster unsettles everyone. The extravagant wedding, paid for by Justine’s brother-in-law, is shattered as the husband and guests depart and the sisters are left to deal with the impending cataclysm alone. Written by PJT

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