Dogme 95: A Case Study of How So-Called Rules Force Creativity…

Dogme 95 was a filmmaking movement started in 1995 by the Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, who created the “Dogme 95 Manifesto.” The rules they made up were used to create films based on the traditional values of story, acting, and theme, and excluding the use of elaborate special effects or technology. It was supposedly an attempt to “take back power for the directors as artists”, as opposed to the studio. They were later joined by fellow Danish directors Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, forming the Dogme 95 Collective. In this episode, I highlight this movement as a case study of why limitations force creativity, something that applies well beyond just filmmaking. So check out this episode and please share your thoughts down in the comment section or hit me up on social media @PhilSvitek.

For those curious, here are all the Dogme 95 rules:

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 colour. 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.

And some of the films to have come out of this movement are:

• Dogme #2: The Idiots
• Dogme #3: Mifune’s Last Song
• Dogme #4: The King Is Alive
• Dogme #5: Lovers
• Dogme #6: Julien Donkey-Boy
• Dogme #8: Fuckland
• Dogme #12: Italian for Beginners
• Dogme #13: Amerikana
• Dogme #14: Joy Ride
• Dogme #15: Camera
• Dogme #18: Truly Human
• Dogme #28: Open Hearts

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