The decade from 1995 to 2005 witnessed Dogma, an innovative filmmaking movement that strived to recognize the artist’s talent rather than popularizing the use of expensive special effects in the production of a movie. It consisted of a set of 10 rules which governed the manner in which the films were shot giving utmost priority to the story and the actor’s performance in a movie; the rules are referred to as “Vow of Chastity”.
Formed by a group of Danish directors like Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg later joined by Kristian Levring and Soren Kragh-Jacobsen ‘the Dogme 95 Collection’ was formed. The original “vows” were written and co-signed by the founders mimicking the wordings of Francois Truffaut’s 1954 essay “Une certain tendance du cinema francais”.
RULES OF DOGMA 95
- Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in unless it is necessary for the story
- The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa unless it occurs where the scene is being shot
- The camera must be handheld. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted
- The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable, too much light or too less light that can affect the exposure is not allowed
- Optical work and filters are forbidden
- The film must not contain superficial action like murders, weapons, etc. shouldn’t be shown
- Forbiddance of temporal and geographical alienation
- Genre movies are not acceptable
- The film format must be Academy 35 mm
- The director must not be credited
Critics & Limitation
These set of rules received widespread criticism since it incorporated a number of limitations on the content that the movie-makers wanted to portray on their films. However, makers started using the term “inspiration” to refer to the restrictions that they had to adhere to while making the movie. The objective behind introducing these rules was to produce a composition of pure form, which although could not be fully achieved, but it managed to increase financial support for state film-making from the Danish government.
These sets of rules have given birth to a number of films, two of them are – Von Trier’s Idiots, and Vinterber’g Festen, both of which were shown at The London Film Festival 1988. The Dogme film No. 1 is Vinterberg’s Festen, it won the Jury prize at ‘The Cannes Film Festival’ the same year. The second film, Idiots was less successful. Other directors produced their work based on Dogma principles- Lovers (1999) was the first Dogme movie to be directed by a non-Dane director Jean-Marc barr who was of French-American ancestry. Julien Donkey-boy was also considered to be a Dogma film.
With the upsurge of video technology in the late 2000s, it became possible to produce pictures of higher resolution, lower contrast, film grain and saturation due to which making of movies based on Dogme principles flourished. They appeared superior to their tape/VCR counterparts almost a decade ago. This gave a positive fuel to the Dogme film-making lineage.