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More like Dogmeat 95.

Posted by on November 17, 2002

I saw my first Dogme 95 film last night, Italian for Beginners. Dogme 95 is a group of directors who have made a series of promises known as the vow of chastity about the films they make.

I heard about Dogme 95 three or four years ago, but I never had any interest in watching their films. Their manifesto is extremely unappealing in the way that only German ideas can be. (I myself am slightly German, so I feel justified in condemning the whole nation.) (Slightly German: band name?) Their central problem with modern films seems to be that these films are rife with false elements (i.e. false lighting, sound work, scenes shot in times other than the present, etc.) and therefore can’t be expected to impart a true idea or emotion to the audience. They solve this problem by requiring that their films be shot only in real locations, with natural light, and handheld cameras, and so on. Basically they’re coming as close as possible to shooting real life without just going around filming ordinary people.

Because Frahm introduced me to this philosophy I expected the films to be pretentious, but Italian was amazingly accessible. It’s a very good film. Unfortunately, I found that the handheld cameras and use of video distracted me from the script and acting which were the film’s strengths. In fact the only thing I approve of about Dogme 95 is the lack of a soundtrack or score. I have always resented filmmakers who use sweeping violins or bass lines to manipulate my emotions when the acting or script isn’t enough to convince me.

Wait, I do approve of one other thing.

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