Danish director Lars von Trier and his three co-signatories of the Dogme 95 manifesto
- Thomas Vinterberg, Sren Kragh-Jacobsen and Kristian Levring - have decided that they
will no longer authorise new Dogme films. In the future any film may achieve a Dogme
certificate, if the director claims in a sworn statement that it was produced from the
Danish 1995 vow of cinematic chastity.
"Of course they can cheat, but they are essentially cheating themselves. Dogme was
never intended as a shield you could hide behind. The more fashionable it has become, also
the more boring," said von Trier, as he cancelled the presumption that the four
directors must approve all new Dogme films. "We have achieved what we wanted. Now it
is up to others." von Trier, Vinterberg, Kragh-Jacobsen and Levring will all leave
their - somewhat different - interpretations of Dogme 95 on the internet. If a filmmaker feels that his or her
work applies to one of them, they are free to demand their certificate from a Dogme
secretariat shortly to be established in Copenhagen. The licence will arrive by mail.
"The manifesto itself was without any value, but it states a couple of limitations
which can be useful to work from. I have always thought that the most important rule was
that picture and sound should be recorded simultaneously. It excludes manipulation - you
cannot cheat afterwards in the editing room. I am still using it as a principle when
"When we originally discussed the vow of chastity, we had no ambitions to change
the world, such as - for instance - the French nouvelle vague. But if in 25 years some
film students accidentally excavate the manifesto and find the 10 rules interesting, we
will obviously be happy, but it was not our initial purpose," continued von Trier.
"What to me personally has been worth the whole Dogme excercise is the fact that a
lot of people in Russia or Argentina or anywhere else in the world have realised that also
they can make films - in spite of how costly and complicated they have always heard it is.
Using the new technology everybody has access to the screen."
While the four directors behind the Dogme principle discontinue their executive powers,
Dogme itself is still in the international headlines - although "signing an oath of
purity in the movie business is rather like playing a Mozart quartet in a
whorehouse," as US critic David Denby
wrote in the New Yorker (13 September, 1999).
DANCER IN THE DARK
Meanwhile von Trier is himself editing his $15 million musical Dancer in the Dark,
starring Bjoerk and Catherine Deneuve. After having seen the first 45 completed minutes of
the film Zentropa Entertainment's CEO, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, decided not to make any
presales at the 1999 Milan film market MIFED, but to wait for its presentation at Cannes
2000 and demand a higher price. "I have never before refused that much money,"
said sales director Thomas Mai, of Trust Film Sales, which handles international
Dancer in the Dark has also sold to the US, the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, besides going
to France, Italy and the Benelux through co-production agreements.
THE VOW OF CHASTITY
I swear to submit to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by
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. (The film must not take place where the camera is
standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place)
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 is 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 35mm
10. The director must not be credited
Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste. I am no
longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a "work", as I regard
the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force
the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the
means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic
Thus I make my vow of chastity.
Copenhagen, Monday 13 March 1995
On behalf of Dogme 95
Lars von Trier. Thomas Vinterberg. Sren Kragh-Jacobsen. Kristian Levring