Saturday, November 15, 2008


One consequence of not having net access at home is that I'm actually making use of my Lovefilm account. One of the seminal films I've suddenly caught up with is a film called Festen, made in the nineties by a group of Scandinavians who were sick of effect heavy flicks like 'Godzilla' (which came out at roughly the same time).

You've probably seen Festen, but thirteen years after it first saw the light of day I was shocked and thrilled by it. It's about a man celebrating his sixtieth birthday in a big hotel in Roskilde. Half way through the dinner one of his sons gets up and denounces his dad for sexually abusing him. How can you not watch the rest of it?

Shot on a tiny DV camera, albeit backed up by a professional sound rig, the 'Dogme' rules the filmmakers cooked up forbade artificial lights and any special effects. Infact so fanatic were they about these self imposed restrictions they felt guilty for closing the curtains to simulate nightfall. The actors bought and paid for their own clothes, and did their own ironing and makeup.

The effect is to strip down the filmmaking of all the fat, leaving you with a searing script and superb performances. It gets a little bit lost during the night time sequences (no lights allowed) so the climactic fight sequence looks like wrestling in a barrel, but overall I was transfixed.

So I'm off to the Lovefilm site to order up some more of these things. Just as soon as I get back online properly, that is.

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