Thursday, 1 March 2012

Time Machine Film Review: Festen

The historical movement of realism in literature and art lasted for about 30-40 years during the 19th Century. It's purpose was "to give a truthful, objective and impartial representation of the real world". Dogme 95 is a process by which film makers follow certain rules when directing; such as no music being added to the film, no extra props, it must be filmed in colour and without special lighting, and the camera filming every scene must be hand held. These are a few of the 10 goals created to "purify" filmmaking. This particular process of filmmaking is very relative to the notion of realism since in the real world we don't hear music and we don't see things in black and white. Therefore imitating how we really live our daily lives through filmmaking complying to the Dogme 95 guidlines, accurately presents us with some truth - though how much is questionable...

Festen, or 'The Celebration' was directed by Thomas Vinterburg. Festen was the first Dogme 95 film, and Vinterburg; one of the founders of the movement. Despite the aim of Dogme 95, Vinterburg admitted to blocking a window in one of the scenes of the film which means two rules were broken - additional props being brought in and the use of special lighting. Furthermore, director Von Trier also used backing music during the filming of 'The Idiots'. The inclusion of these artificial aspects means the representation cannot be argued as a truthful one.

A particular scene in the film interested me. During the celebratory meal where everyone is gathered for Helge's 60th birthday, Christian stands up to make his toast and he suddenly begins speaking of how his father sexually abused him and his twin sister (who previous committed suicide in the hotel where the party is happening). Throughout and when he has finished speaking there is a confused and still atmosphere. The camera films people looking blankly at each other. His father at the head of the table dismisses it. After this scene of the film, it seems the aspect of doubt and confusion surrounding whether or not what Christian spoke of is actually true and how people just disregard it, means that because people can get on with the party, seems to automatically mean it's not true, or 'real'. This is the impression I got from the filmmaking in this case - how it seems that the truth comes out, but life goes on like it is not the truth at all.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Christine. Thanks for your review. Your standard of English is high and you’ve presented your thoughts succinctly. At the end of the first paragraph you suggest doubts about the degree of truth inherent in Dogme films. I was hoping you would have expanded on this and presented your reasons for questioning what others often except as gospel: that Dogme is realism personified in film. I agree that its degree of truth is questionable, and there are aspects of Festen that we can challenge. It seems you’ve shied away from the argument, which is a shame. Your standard of writing suggests the ability to communicate complex and challenging ideas. For future reference I’d suggest being bold, make your arguments, tell us why the idea of truth in Dogme films is questionable. Think of these essay assignments as an opportunity to express yourself, to put forward ideas and challenge the status-quo.