In 1995, a group of four Danish directors, Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, and Kristian Levring, collectively known as the Dogme brethren, published a group statement against the Hollywood esthetic. "As never before," they claimed, "the superficial action and the superficial movie are receiving all the praise. The result is barren. An illusion of pathos and an illusion of love. Today a technological storm is raging of which the result is the elevation of cosmetics to God. By using new technology anyone at any time can wash the last grains of truth away in the deadly embrace of sensation." 1 The Dogme95 manifesto calls for a rejection of the spectacle and excess of the industry film. In the preface to their manifesto, the Dogme brethren ask, "[if] the 'supreme' task of the decadent filmmakers is to fool the audience … [i]s that what we are so proud of? Is that what the '100 years' have brought us? Illusions via which emotions can be communicated? … By the individual artist's free choice of trickery?" The manifesto advocates the purging of cinema, the eradication of screen tricks, a movement away from "the film of illusion," and a return to films that tell the truth. Endorsing what I would call a retrolutionary approach, a backward-looking movement in which the filmmakers attempt to improve the present state of cinema by a return to the technology of the past, the Dogme brothers swear their adherence to a "Vow of Chastity," a set of rules that restricts them from using, for example, special effects, camera filters, any unnatural lighting, or any added music.
In their rejection of tricks and illusion, the Dogme films are quite different from the plays of Shakespeare, who was never one to hesitate to use a trap door. But in their interest in drama that tells the truth, the Dogme brothers endorse a kind of Shakespearean esthetic. One thinks, for instance, of Hamlet's complaint against the groundlings "who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and noise" (3.2.12) and his advice to the players "to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature" (3.2.22). 2 Indeed, films by Dogme directors are often concerned with questions of perception and truth. "How do we know what we're seeing? How do we know what's true? what's right? what's normal? what's beautiful?" are questions these films ask us, films that manipulate our vision in order to present us with another way of looking at the world. 3 Bad eyesight that leads to spiritual insight and madness that leads to acuity are also themes in several English Renaissance plays. Like Kent
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Publication information: Book title: Shakespeare, the Movie II: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV, Video, and Dvd. Contributors: Richard Burt - Editor, Lynda E. Boose - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 252.
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