Monday, May 16, 2016

925. Festen

The Celebration
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

I remember watching this in my playwriting class as an example of closed time, closed space.  We also saw a few clips from the play adaptation and it looked quite good.  The audience surrounded the stage, almost as if they were part of the dinner party.  Anyway, I thought this was brilliant and hopefully, I will see it on stage one day.

Family patriarch Helge is celebrating his 60th birthday at his family run hotel.  His children, Christian, Helene, and Michael, travel to the hotel for the party. While the rest of the family puts on a happy face for the celebration,  Christian is still clearly mourning the loss of his twin sister, who recently took her own life.  At dinner, Christian makes a shocking accusation.

I am not a huge fan of the Dogme 95 movement, but I did absolutely love the look of the film.  It felt like there was a reason here behind the rules, instead of mere pretension.  I really felt like I was one of the guests.  I think we can all empathize with the family and the attendees.  When I see family or acquaintances that I am not close to, I put up a wall.  When they ask me how I am or how my medical issues are going, I am not going to actually detail my problems.  Most likely, I will just say I'm fine and that I am getting better because, honestly, that's what they want to hear.  I feel like everyone was in that headspace in this film, although, of course, the secret they were protecting was a lot more disturbing and salacious than my own.  In any case, if someone knocked down that wall like Christian did, I don't know what I would do either.  I thought it was fascinating watching the aftermath of Christian's toast and I almost wish the film had been longer.

Anyway, one of the best films of the nineties so far.  Might even grab the Oscar.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Some of the guests at the table would take turns holding the camera, as Dogme rules state that the camera must always be handheld.


  1. I'm rather s-so about the Dogma idea .. As a gimmick, 'Let's get back to basics', well I can go with that .. but all those rules? I mean, they are being just a tad overly dogmatic about it aren't they? Eh? Oh, right .. sure...
    As for this one .. I was more than OK with it .. Hugely brave theme and approach..
    Is Idiots in the list .. or maybe already done?

    1. Agreed. I don't think so many limits foster creativity that much. I don't think Idiots is on The List. Or at least my edition.

    2. .. Count that as something good .. I really hated 'Idiots'