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Dogme 95 Manifesto and its Discontents

How Did the Dogme 95 Affected the History of Cinema?

In 1995, an exciting and unexpected movement occurred at the 100th-anniversary conference of cinema in Cannes. Danish director Lars Von Trier expressed that he was not satisfied with cinema’s progress for the last ten years when he gave his speech titled “Dogme 95 Manifesto”, which he wrote with Thomas Vinterberg.

He stated that the latest films aim to deceive the bourgeoisie and the audience. Lars Von Trier, who shattered the concept of auteur developed in the 1960s, stated that these films were films that redefine the concept of the bourgeoisie while claiming to criticize the bourgeoisie culture.

In the text similar to the French New Wave directors’ manifesto in the 1960s, Lars Von Trier claimed that these directors deviated from the culture they wanted to produce by creating the concept of auteur in a completely different direction. Emphasizing that cinema needs a serious renewal process, the famous Danish director issued a manifesto and called on all directors to do this.

Lars von Trier, photography by Peter Hjorth

In its manifesto, Dogme 95 criticized Hollywood while banning studio shootings. Rules are clear: only open-air shots are real cinema, the use of excessive light and artificial sounds or music are unacceptable. There is only room for a realistic narrative.

Lars Von Trier finds unnecessary scenes of violence and action contrary to cinema’s ethics. Also, he accuses the filmmakers of deceiving the audience. The manifesto of the Dogme 95 prevents directors from defining themselves as artists. The director’s name should not be written in the credits. Lars von Trier puts deliberately criticizes the auteur cinema. Dogme 95 had an impact on several directors and indirectly affected the narrative of many films.

Reflections of DOGME 95 in World of Cinema

Surrounding Danish cinema with its own uncanny and storytelling, Lars Von Trier won an award at the Cannes Film Festival the following year with his film “Festen”.

The film gained visibility in many film festivals. It was the initiative of a film that would constitute one of the masterpieces of cinema’s history, such as “A Woman Under the Influence.” After the “Festen” (The Celebration), essential films such as “The Idiots,” “The King is Alive,” “Fuckland,” “Babylon,” “Lazy Sunday Afternoons,” which spread from Sweden to the cinema of Argentina, emerged.

The Celebration by Lars von Trier

While many art critics welcomed the Dogme 95 as a vital manifesto following the French New Wave, it lost its popularity by interacting with movements such as the Greek New Wave that captured the time’s spirit. Many directors affected by the movement, especially Lars Von Trier, did not follow the manifesto’s restrictive rules and even violated some articles. Although the restrictive effect of the manifesto exacerbates and glorifies creativity, the current, which continued its effect until 2004, no longer had its former dominance and influence as the time-shifted spirit in a different direction.

Dogme 95 Movement and 2000’s Democratic Cinema World

Nevertheless, the Dogme 95 movement, which led to impressive films, made Danish cinema a worldwide brand, making it perhaps the most talked-about country cinema after French cinema and the French New Wave movement. The directors, whose northern influences we often see in their cold and realistic cinema, pursued a new aesthetic understanding by using moving cameras and not using light in outdoor shots.

Although it is exciting to perform creativity, cinema’s art has turned into an avalanche wave that has grown so much that it cannot be understood and restricted within specific rules. The Dogma 95 movement has taken its place in cinema’s history as a vital cinema movement in which everyone contributed to different productions in the late 90s. Especially in a world where everyone can access the camera and create their medium thanks to advancing technology, polyphony was perhaps not as bad as the Dogme 95 manifesto stated.

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References:

Von Trier, Lars. “DOGMA 95 – THE MANIFEST.” Dogme95.Dk – A Tribute to the Official Dogme95, 1995, dogme95.dk

“DOGME 95 DENMARK (EST. 1995 – 2005).” What Is Dogme?, 2019, movementsinfilm.com

Gilbey, Ryan. “Dogme Is Dead. Long Live Dogme.” The Guardian, 19 Apr. 2002, theguardian.com

Image:

Lars von Trier, photography by Peter Hjorth prod.slotmachine.fr

The Celebration by Lars Von Trier imdb.com

 

For more: 

Metamodernism: Is Hope Still Relevant in This Digital Age?

Acting and Storytelling in Silent Cinema

The Impact of Art Direction on Film

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