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Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Produced in 1998
Main Language - Danish / German / English with English subtitles
Countries & Regions - Scandinavian Film
"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 considerations," declared director Thomas Vinter as one of the founding signatories to Lars Von Trier's notorious Dogme '95 manifesto.
Festen (aka Celebration) was Dogme#1: the first film to be made in accordance with the cinematic 'vow of chastity' which prohibited any assistance beyond natural light, on-location sound recording and a handheld camera. The result is a perfect union between storytelling and technique as handheld cameras capture the frenetic pace of this pitch-black farce set around a patriarch's 60th birthday party.
Eldest son Christian (Ulrich Thomsen) is still troubled by the passing of his twin sister; his ne'er do well younger brother, Michael (Thomas Bo Larsen) shows up uninvited to court his father's favour, his wife and kids in tow. Like a nightmarish Gosford Park, a web of drama and intrigue unfolds above and below stairs as the cringingly awful family turns in on itself amidst accusations of abuse and recriminations over the death of the eldest daughter.
Festen is certainly shocking and provocative, but this award-winning comedy is, above all, unpretentious and fun. And there is comfort to be gained to see that families, even in their darkest hour, can still clink their glasses and carry on with the party.
Milo Wakelin on 10th September 2008
Author of 103 reviews
Dogme Film 1. The brilliant first film made according to Lars von Trier's 'Vow of Chastity', about a birthday party held for a 60 year-old man, in which some unpleasant family truths are revealed. A film about love, hate, and the icy charm of the bourgeoisie.
Length: 106 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Cat No: MTD5411
Format: DVD Colour
- Making-of documentary
- Festen in Retrospect
- The Disclosure of Festen.
by Anon on 8th October 2008
If you like films in which you can see almost nothing, hear only vaguely, be presented with meaningless, pretentious principles and sit through a self indulgent ramble... Read on
If you like films in which you can see almost nothing, hear only vaguely, be presented with meaningless, pretentious principles and sit through a self indulgent ramble through an unresolved story of child abuse involving totally repugnant characters with no redeeming features, then this film is for you. I thought the play was bad enough but the film is quite the worst film in the history of cinema. Anyone encouraged to buy it at £12.99 or at 1p is being ripped off. Hide
by Barry Forshaw on 2nd December 2002
Now acknowledged as the most accessible film fashioned in the DOGME 95 idiom, Festen has gleaned awards and much audience enthusiasm. Thomas Vinterberg's authentic exa... Read on
Now acknowledged as the most accessible film fashioned in the DOGME 95 idiom, Festen has gleaned awards and much audience enthusiasm. Thomas Vinterberg's authentic examination of a family gathering that autodestructs is filmed in real time, which gives the unforced dramatics a powerful verisimilitude. The metaphorical 'vows of chastity' that Lars Von Trier launched the Dogma movement with now look quaint, but the unforced qualities on offer here lend real edge to the narrative. We are shown the Klingenfeldt family on the eve of the patriarch's birthday. With the strange death of his daughter destabilising an already precarious family equilibrium, the birthday celebration is doomed to disaster. Performances are uniformly splendid. The shades of Ibsen and Strindberg (with their bleak takes on family life) may be evident here, but this is a very individual piece of work. Hide
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