Last night I watched . . . "Festen"

I had heard of "Dogme 95"--the film creation manifesto of Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg--but I had never actually seen any of the films made following its code of conduct.  The Dogme 95 filmmakers signed pact to defeat the evil forces of Hollywood overproduction and make films "real" again.  While I support that sentiment theoretically, after watching "Festen (The Celebration)" last night, I decided that watching "real" films may induce seizure.

According to Kevin Jack Hagopian, Senior Lecturer of Media Studies at Penn State, 

"Films made to Dogme’s rigid specs use hand-held cameras, ‘wild’ sound, available lighting, location filming (there are no sets in FESTEN), and emphatically, no digitized imagery. Even their choice to work with a video master transferred to a 35mm negative seems brash, another opportunity to lose the elegance and gloss of the ‘prestige’ foreign film. Dogme counts among its spiritual forebears the American Cinema Verité movement of the 1960s pioneered by D.A. Pennebaker, and like those provocative documentarians they see themselves as provocateurs for a newly meaningful cinema in a landscape of mediocrity. Dogme calls for a return to the profound simplicity of ‘little films’ such as THE 400 BLOWS (Truffaut, 1958), and SHOESHINE (de Sica, 1946), a cinema in which, to quote their credo, "the inner lives of the characters justifies the plot." FESTEN is the first film to embody Dogme’s passion for the miniature movie."  Film Notes

Take Aways:

While I love the idea of Dogme 95 for OTHER PEOPLE--it is not for me.  In my reality, I don't shake my head uncontrollably and fall down at unspecified intervals just to make things more "real".  In other words, my personal vision does not resemble a hand-held camera.  

Also, I'm a huge fan of flattering mood lighting and other things that make myself and others look better. And I like to see what is going on in a movie without squinting.

One thing I did think could work in the "Parasols of Baltimore", though, is long takes and uncomfortable camera angles because that would reflect the reality of acrobatic action.