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Dogme 95: A Movement Started From A Phone Call

Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg popularised the Danish film movement Dogme 95. The goal of Dogme 95 is to return filmmaking to its roots, avoiding the conventions of commercial cinema such as over-the-top technology-based and sensationalist narratives. This is accomplished by following a set of severe restrictions known as the ‘Vow of Chastity.

It is necessary to understand the history and political events of the early 1990s in order to fully comprehend how a film movement like Dogme 95 began.

As a result of the closure of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, globalization, democracy, and capitalism have advanced at a breakneck pace on a worldwide scale.

These events served as unifying forces, bringing the world together and easing tensions between nations. Barriers were broken down, and film ideas and genres were presented and formed for cross-border migration.

The growth of technology and digital skills of filmmaking aided greatly in the transmission of ideas and films around the world.

The cost of movie production, exhibition, and transmission decreased in the 1990s, as have the production and distribution costs.

This meant that non-Hollywood filmmakers could compete with Hollywood in terms of producing and distributing films to their audiences. In such a situation, some type of rescue effort was required. Hollywood’s big-budget films were acquiring a lot of attention and renown. Von Trier and Vinterberg wanted to prove a point by showing that budgets do not define quality.

One day Lars von Trier called Thomas Vinterberg in early 1995, encouraging him to join him in starting a film revolution. Then, according to mythology, in 45 minutes, these two directors materialized THE VOW OF CHASTITY, a ten-point set of rules known as the Dogme 95 Manifesto, which they always referred to in capital letters. The Danish word for dogma is dogme.

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Rules of Dogme 95 :

1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).

2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)

3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.

4. The film must be in color. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.)

5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.

6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)

7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)

8. Genre movies are not acceptable.

9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.

10. The director must not be credited.