|Country||International, started in Denmark|
|Major figures||Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, Jean-Marc Barr|
|Influences||Realism, French New Wave|
|Influenced||Mumblecore, New Puritans|
Dogme 95 was an avant-garde filmmaking movement started in 1995 by the Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, who created the "Dogme 95 Manifesto" and the "Vow of Chastity" (Danish: kyskhedsløfter). These were rules to create filmmaking based on the traditional values of story, acting, and theme, and excluding the use of elaborate special effects or technology. They were later joined by fellow Danish directors Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, forming the Dogme 95 Collective or the Dogme Brethren. Dogme (pronounced [ˈd̥ɒwmə]) is the Danish word for dogma.
The genre gained international appeal partly because of its accessibility. It sparked an interest in unknown filmmakers by suggesting that one can make a recognised film of a quality to gain recognition, without being dependent on commissions or huge Hollywood budgets. The directors used European government subsidies and television station funding instead.
Best friends Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg wrote and co-signed the manifesto and its companion "vows". Vinterberg said that they wrote the pieces in 45 minutes. The manifesto initially mimics the wording of François Truffaut's 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" in Cahiers du cinéma.
They announced the Dogme movement on March 13, 1995 in Paris, at Le cinéma vers son deuxième siècle conference. The cinema world had gathered to celebrate the first century of motion pictures and contemplate the uncertain future of commercial cinema. Called upon to speak about the future of film, Lars von Trier showered a bemused audience with red pamphlets announcing "Dogme 95".
In response to criticism, von Trier and Vinterberg have both stated that they just wanted to establish a new extreme: "In a business of extremely high budgets, we figured we should balance the dynamic as much as possible."
The first of the Dogme films (Dogme #1) was Vinterberg's 1998 film Festen (The Celebration). It was critically acclaimed and won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Lars von Trier's Dogme film, Idioterne (The Idiots), also premiered at Cannes that year but was less successful. Since the two films were released, other directors have made films based on Dogme principles. French-American actor and director Jean-Marc Barr was the first non-Dane to direct a Dogme film: Lovers (1999) (Dogme #5). The American Harmony Korine's film Julien Donkey-Boy (Dogme #6) also was considered a Dogme film.
The end credits of Het Zuiden (South) (2004), directed by Martin Koolhoven, included thanks to "Dogme 95". Koolhoven originally planned to shoot it as a Dogme film, and it was co-produced by von Trier's Zentropa. Finally, the director decided he did not want to be so severely constrained as by Dogme principles.
Since the late 2000s, the emergence of video technology in DSLR photography cameras, such as the Canon EOS 550D, has resulted in a tremendous surge of both feature and short films shot with most, if not all, of the rules pertaining to the Dogme 95 manifesto. However, because of advancements in technology and quality, the aesthetic of these productions typically appears drastically different than that of the Dogme films shot on Tape or DVD-R Camcorders. Largely erasing the primitive and problematic features of past technologies, newer technologies have helped Dogme 95 filmmakers achieve an aesthetic of higher resolution, as well as of lower contrast, film grain, and saturation.
Goals and rules
The goal of the Dogme collective is to purify filmmaking by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post-production modifications and other technical gimmicks. The filmmakers concentrate on the story and the actors' performances. They believe this approach may better engage the audience, as they are not alienated or distracted by overproduction. To this end, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg produced ten rules to which any Dogme film must conform. These rules, referred to as the "Vow of Chastity," are as follows:
- 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).
- 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.)
- The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
- The film must be in colour. 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).
- Optical work and filters are forbidden.
- The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
- Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now).
- Genre movies are not acceptable.
- The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
- The director must not be credited.
Uses and abuses
The above rules have been both circumvented and broken from the first Dogme film to be produced. For instance, Vinterberg "confessed" to having covered a window during the shooting of one scene in The Celebration (Festen). With this, he both brought a prop onto the set and used "special lighting." Von Trier used background music (Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns) in the film The Idiots (Idioterne).
Since 2002 and the 31st film, a filmmaker no longer needs to have his work verified by the original board to identify it as a Dogme 95 work. The founding "brothers" have begun working on new experimental projects and have been skeptical about the later common interpretation of the Manifesto as a brand or a genre. The movement broke up in 2005. Today, filmmakers submit a form online and check a box which states they "truly believe that the film ... has obeyed all Dogme95 rules as stated in the VOW OF CHASTITY."
Remodernist filmmaker Jesse Richards criticizes the movement in his Remodernist Film Manifesto, stating in relation to Point 10, "Remodernist film is not Dogme ’95. We do not have a pretentious checklist that must be followed precisely. This manifesto should be viewed only as a collection of ideas and hints whose author may be mocked and insulted at will." American film critic Armond White also criticized the movement, stating that it was "the manifesto that brought filmmaking closer to amateur porn". He believed the movement would be rejected as insignificant by film historians.
Notable Dogme films
Complete list is available from the Dogme95 web site.
- Dogme #1: The Celebration
- Dogme #2: The Idiots
- Dogme #3: Mifune's Last Song
- Dogme #4: The King Is Alive
- Dogme #5: Lovers
- Dogme #6: Julien Donkey-Boy
- Dogme #8: Fuckland
- Dogme #12: Italian for Beginners
- Dogme #14: Joy Ride
- Dogme #17: Reunion (aka American Reunion)
- Dogme #21: Kira's Reason: A Love Story
- Dogme #23: Resin
- Dogme #28: Open Hearts
- Dogme #31: El desenlace
- Dogme #33: Residencia
- Dogme #35: Così x Caso
- Dogme #37: Gypo
Use of concept
- Category:Dogme 95 films
- Realism (arts)
- New Puritans
- New Sincerity
- Remodernist film
Notes and references
- Utterson, Andrew (2005). Technology and Culture, the Film Reader. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-31985-0.
- Krause, Stefanie (2007). The Implementing of the 'Vow of Chastity' in Jan Dunn's "Gypo". Verlag. ISBN 978-3-638-76811-5.
- Kristian Levring interview (via Internet Archive)
- Dogme 95 - Dogmefilms (via Internet Archive)
- "Remodernist Film Manifesto", When The Trees Were Still Real, August 27, 2008 Retrieved September 1, 2008
- White, Armond (2004-03-09). "Digital Video Dogpatch: The king of false movement directs his ice queen", New York Press. Retrieved on 2009-05-24.
- Brook, Tom (6 April 2002), Figgis unlocks Hotel's secrets, BBC News, retrieved 2014-02-01
- Ebert, Roger (26 Sept. 2003), Hotel, Roger Ebert, retrieved 2014-02-03
- "Interview: Mogens Rukov", Zakka
- Official Nimbus Film Website
- "Lars From 1-10", 10-minute film with reflections by von Trier on Dogme 95, The Perverts Guide
- Dogme 95 by John Roberts, New Left Review I/238, November–December 1999