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Exactly what is it about “no” you don’t understand?

I’ve been fascinated by Dogme95 since it’s first successful incarnation in Thomas Vinterberg’s brilliant 1998 film, Celebration. At the 2003 Sundance Film Festival there were three films that caught my eye and that were all either directly or indirectly connected to the Dogme95 movement, so I managed to persuade the Books and Arts editor at The Economist to let me write a piece that tied them together within the context of Dogme95. Here’s an excerpt:

IT’S probably not what you expected, but three new films—two Danish, one American—show beyond doubt that Dogma 95, the austere production manifesto that emanated from Copenhagen, is still inspiring fresh, arresting work eight years on. “Open Hearts”, the latest film to be made under Dogma 95′s vow of chastity—no artificial lighting, no make-up, no added music, no genre stories—carries its credentials well. Directed by Susanne Bier (openly credited though the rules disallow it), the film is a fine example of where the manifesto works, and where it is best to junk it.

The plot is somewhat surreal (Mike Leigh meets Pedro Almodóvar). Cecilie and Niels fall in love after Niels’s wife runs over Cecilie’s fiancé with her car. But the closeness that the Dogma style allows between the actors and the audience maintains the emotion of a moving and poignant love story. The actors, freed from the dictates of lighting, circle and confront one another with the electricity of a documentary. Mads Mikkelsen is outstanding as the confused, reticent Niels.

Like Mark Twain with the truth, Ms Bier sticks to the rules but stretches them a little. We hear Cecilie’s Walkman as clearly as if we wore the headphones ourselves, while a greying of the film’s tone and a whirring sound reminiscent of Super-8 (though the film was shot in digital) reveal the character’s internal thoughts: for example, Cecilie imagining her fiancé, in reality paralysed from the neck down, reaching out to touch her face. The result is a string of moments forming a sharply drawn narrative arc that remains true to the spirit of Dogma, even as it indicates where to cross some of the manifesto’s boundaries.

For the whole article click here.

Movie Poster for "Open Hearts"

Movie Poster for "Pieces of April"

Movie Poster for "It's All About Love"

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