Dogma (film)

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This article is about the 1999 film. For the avant-garde filmmaking movement, see Dogma 95.
Dogma
Dogma (movie).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kevin Smith
Produced by Scott Mosier
Written by Kevin Smith
Starring Ben Affleck
Matt Damon
George Carlin
Linda Fiorentino
Salma Hayek
Jason Lee
Jason Mewes
Alan Rickman
Chris Rock
Kevin Smith
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Robert Yeoman
Edited by Scott Mosier
Kevin Smith
Production
company
Distributed by Lionsgate Films (US)
FilmFour (UK)
Release dates
  • November 12, 1999 (1999-11-12)
Running time 128 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[1]
Box office $30,652,890[1]

Dogma is a 1999 American comedy film, written and directed by Kevin Smith, who also stars along with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Bud Cort, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo, Alanis Morissette, and Jason Mewes. It is the fourth film in Smith's View Askewniverse series. Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, stars of the first Askewniverse film Clerks, have cameo roles, as do Smith regulars Scott Mosier, Dwight Ewell, Walt Flanagan, and Bryan Johnson.

The film's irreverent treatment of Catholicism and the Catholic Church triggered considerable controversy, even before its opening. The Catholic League denounced it as "blasphemy".[2] Organized protests delayed its release in many countries, and led to at least two death threats against Smith.[3][4] The plot centers around two fallen angels who plan to employ an alleged loophole in Catholic dogma to return to Heaven, after being cast out by God; but as existence is founded on the principle that God is infallible, their success would prove God wrong and thus undo all creation. The last scion and two prophets are sent by the Voice of God to stop them.

Plot[edit]

Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon) are fallen angels, banished for eternity from Heaven to Wisconsin for insubordination after an inebriated Loki (with Bartleby's encouragement) resigned as the Angel of Death. When the trendy Cardinal Glick (Carlin) announces that he is rededicating his cathedral in Red Bank, New Jersey in the image of "Buddy Jesus", the angels see their salvation: Anyone entering the cathedral during the rededication festivities will receive a plenary indulgence; all punishment for sin will be remitted, permitting direct entry into Heaven.[5] They receive encouragement from an unexpected source: Azrael (Lee), a demon, once a Muse, also banished from Heaven (for refusing to take sides in the battle between God and Lucifer); and the Stygian Triplets (Barret Hackney, Jared Pfennigwerth, and Kitao Sakurai), three teenage hoodlums who serve Azrael in Hell.

Bethany Sloane (Fiorentino)—a despondent, infertile, divorced abortion clinic employee—attends a service at Glick's cathedral. Donations are being solicited to help a hospitalized, comatose homeless man—known only as John Doe Jersey (Cort)—who was beaten senseless outside a skee ball arcade by the Triplets. Later that day, Metatron (Rickman)—the Voice of God—appears to Bethany in a pillar of fire and declares that she is the last relative of Jesus Christ. He explains that Bartleby and Loki cannot be allowed to succeed: By re-entering Heaven, they would be overruling the word of God, thereby disproving the fundamental concept of God's omnipotence, and nullifying all of existence. She, together with two prophets who will appear to her, must stop the angels and save the universe.

Now a target, Bethany is attacked by the Triplets, and is rescued by the two foretold prophets—drug-dealing stoners named Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith). Other allies in her mission are Rufus (Rock), the thirteenth apostle (never mentioned in the Bible, he says, because he is black), and Serendipity (Hayek), a Muse with writer's block.

On a train, a drunken Bethany reveals her mission to Bartleby, who tries to kill her; a melee ensues, and Silent Bob throws the angels off the train. Bartleby and Loki now realize the potential consequences of their scheme; and while Loki wants no part of destroying all existence, Bartleby remains angry at God for his expulsion—and for granting free will to humans while demanding servitude of angels—and to Loki's horror, resolves to proceed.

Bethany and her allies discuss the situation: Who is really behind the angels' plan, and why has God not intervened? Metatron explains that God's whereabouts are unknown; he disappeared while visiting Earth in human form to play skee ball. At the cathedral, the group attempts in vain to persuade Cardinal Glick to cancel the celebration; Jay angrily steals Glick's golf club.

At a nearby bar, Azrael captures Bethany and her protectors and reveals that he is the mastermind behind the angels' plan—he would rather not exist at all than spend eternity in Hell. Silent Bob kills Azrael with Glick's blessed golf club. Serendipity tells Bethany to bless the bar sink, turning its contents to holy water, and Jay, Rufus and Serendipity drown the Triplets in it. Bartleby and Loki reach the cathedral; Bartleby kills all the celebrants, and when Loki attempts to stop him he tears off Loki's wings, making him mortal. When the protectors block Bartleby's entry into the church, Bartleby kills Loki and fights off Rufus, Serendipity and Bob, but as he flees, Jay shoots off his wings with a machine gun.

During his latest of several attempts to seduce Bethany, Jay mentions John Doe Jersey. Realizing that the homeless man is the mortal form that God assumed, Bethany and Bob race to the hospital. Bethany disconnects John Doe's life support, liberating God, but killing herself. As Bartleby again attempts to enter the cathedral, God manifests before him as a woman (Morissette), and kills him with the power of her voice. When Bob arrives with Bethany's lifeless body, God resurrects her and conceives a child within her womb. God, Metatron, Rufus, and Serendipity return to Heaven, leaving Bethany and the two prophets to reflect on what has happened.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay as well as a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America honor for Best Screenplay.[citation needed]

Dogma was the third-highest grossing film in its opening weekend, behind The Bone Collector and Pokémon: The First Movie.[6] The film grossed a domestic total of $30,652,890 from a modest $10 million budget.[1]

Critics were mostly positive about the film; it has a 67% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus "Provocative and audacious, Dogma entertains without overtly offending". It fared better with fans, ranking 84% by the community.[7] On Metacritic, the film received a rating of 62 percent based on 36 reviews, and 7.7/10 by fans, based on 35 votes.[8]

The film was screened, but was not entered in competition, at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.[9]

Production[edit]

Aside from a few scenes filmed on the New Jersey shore, most of the film was shot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Before shooting, Smith warned Mewes that he needed to be on point due to the involvement of "real actors," such as Rickman. As a result, Mewes memorized not only his dialogue, but the dialogue for every character in the entire screenplay, much to Smith's surprise. Mewes commented that he did it because he "didn't want to piss off that Rickman dude". [10]

In the Dogma publicity stills on the film's official website, Smith described a scene that did not make the final cut: a climactic face-off, Silent Bob versus the redheaded Triplet (with a burned-out face) and the Golgothan, in the hospital. The battle was to end with God, newly liberated, transforming the Golgothan to flowers.[11]

Soundtrack[edit]

Sequel[edit]

In late November 2005, Smith was asked about a possible sequel on the ViewAskew.com message boards:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Dogma at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ A Practicing Catholic On The Religious Storm Of `Dogma'. Chicago Tribune archive. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Kimberley Jones (August 10, 2001). "Mr. Smith Goes to Austin". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  4. ^ Andy Seiler (October 24, 2001). "Kevin Smith is seldom Silent". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  5. ^ Note that in actual Catholic theology, plenary indulgence does not mean blanket forgiveness of sins. Moreover, Church rules govern humans, not angels. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, subarticle X "Catechism article on Indulgences". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 12-14, 1999". Amazon.com. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  7. ^ Dogma at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ Dogma at Metacritic
  9. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Dogma". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  10. ^ "My Boring-Ass Life". March 29, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  11. ^ "Dogma - Through the eyes of the director - The Scenes That Never Were". Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  12. ^ Kevin Smith (November 27, 2005). "The View Askewniverse Message Board". Retrieved 2009-06-18. 

External links[edit]