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Movie movements that defined cinema: Dogme95

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Key filmmakers: Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, Lone Scherfig

Key dates: 1995-2005

What is it? Officially 30-odd films strong, and not all from its homeland of Denmark (Spring Breakers’ Harmony Korine got in on the act), Dogme95 came with its own vow of chastity. The idea was to distance its filmmakers from the promiscuous types rampaging about Hollywood with their special effects and their bombastic scores. Lars von Trier kicked things off on the balcony of Paris’s Odéon Theatre by scattering hundreds of red flyers on which were inscribed a ten-point manifesto bashed out in less than an hour with Thomas Vinterberg’s help:

  1. Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in
  2. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed
  3. The camera must be hand-held; filming must take place where the action takes place
  4. The film must be in colour. No special lighting
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden
  6. No superficial action (No murders, weapons, etc.)
  7. No temporal or geographical alienation
  8. No genre movies
  9. The aspect ratio must be 4:3, not widescreen
  10. The director must not be credited

Danish production companies Nimbus and von Trier’s Zentropa funded the movement’s austerely shot but regular confronting visions (do not, under any circumstances, attempt to try The Idiots-style “spazzing”), until the dogmesecretariat officially disbanded it in 2005. “It was always meant to be a wave,” said Vinterberg. “And they don't go on forever.”

What to watch: Festen (1995) (pictured top), The Idiots (1998), Mifune’s Last Song (1999), The King Is Alive (2000), Italian For Beginners (2000)

What did it influence? Bernard Rose introduced his own version of the Dogme’s chastity vow on Ivansxtc, while Donnie Darko’s Richard Kelly, Mike Figgis and Michael Winterbottom have all shared the movement’s pared-down style.

Trivia: Lars von Trier added the ‘von’ to his name at film school.

What to say: “Dogme was over the night Festen opened in 1998, because it was no longer dangerous, no longer innocent, no longer a revolt.” (Thomas Vinterberg)

What not to say: “I love Dogme! Marley & Me is one of my favourite movies.”

Head to Empire's full list of essential movie movements