27 years ago, on March 13, 1995, ended in controversial Copenhagen The Vow of Chastity, the Ten Commandments of the Dogma ’95 group, founded by two great directors, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. This idealistic manifesto movement countered this artificiality with some seemingly final precepts – the prohibition of giving credit to the director, the use of artificial light, the construction of the story within a cinematic genre, etc.; The statement is clearly intended as a near-interference of the fictional film convention in the home movie record, an imperceptible, objective, and plausible approach to reality. Two of the cult films of this movement were Festen / The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg, 1998) and Idioterne / The Idiots (Lars von Trier, 1998), but the manifesto was previously extinguished due to false expectations and its limitations – the impossibility of constructing completely unaltered realities in film lore Imaginary, as nothing can be completely random. I find it fascinating how the effects of the 95’s creed are still felt in the case of both directors, whose cinematic paths later became different.
In this text, I propose to revisit three major films of Thomas Winterberg (52), a filmmaker who is perhaps more stable and balanced, if we speak in “classic” terms, than Lars von Trier (who did not fail to shock viewers in cinematically, Through films that touch on controversial topics, and through his vision of life and political ideas that should not be mentioned now), he is a filmmaker whose three films I would like to remember (at least) – The Antichrist (2009), Melancholy (2011) The House That Jack Built (2018) ). Winterberg maintained a path that was perhaps safer and less strict, in keeping with his own values, and dealing with very personal and original themes. Among the eleven feature films of the Danish director, I will talk about three that have managed to incorporate the most recognizable authorship style, ensuring a very accurate cinematic path.
In 1998, Festen/The Celebration won the Grand Prix in Cannes, a film whose filmmaker has not been credited, respecting (and still) dogmatic orthodoxy. The film proposes a reinterpretation of Hamlet in postmodern Denmark, where the party turns into endless chaos. This feast is actually a “last celebration”, in which the three children will reveal the most brutal trauma they have been exposed to by the head of the family, a celebration that, unlike the unexpected witness, will in advance of the end of this family. The camera, which follows smoothly and continuously, in the manner of a home movie, all that unfolds in front of it. In the Dogma version, Vinterberg recreates the entire story of this family as if separate from Fanny and Alexander/Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982), fantastically urging the viewer to value the document – the possibility of tracing the lives of the characters before and after this point. The next big movie nominated for Berlinals is Submarino (2010), which also talks about the traumas and meeting of two brothers at their mother’s funeral. Two years later, the Danish director produced one of the deepest films of recent decades, Jagten/The Hunt (2012), a film whose recognition and awards have become less and less important.
I think with Jagten / The Hunt, the theme of community and intimacy becomes the author’s marks for the director, which we will find later in Kollektivet / The Commune (2016), but also in the director’s latest and most successful film, Druk / Another Tour (2018). It seems to me necessary in the case of the two films (Jagten and Druk) that the strong confrontation between the author and the actor is an example of the remarkable collaborative work with Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen. Jagten centers the story around a teacher, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), in a small Danish provincial town, where nothing happens. And it is precisely against this background, after false accusations of pedophilia (which we know from the outset to be false, as the recipients, the story is not built in the jargon of Agatha Christie-style eroticism), society—that enclosed space, surely—that will turn irrevocably against it. reversible. Perhaps the most important way to me is the way Venterberg works with two basic concepts – truth and memory, more precisely the way in which collective and individual memory seem to disintegrate by the loose repetition, indiscriminately, of pseudo-facts, which in the midst of which are in such a complex way And delicate, lays the child. And this fact changes suddenly and drastically, becoming vulnerable to shocks across generations. Jagten speaks sympathetically about the loss of innocence, love turning into fear, (guilt) and fragility, themes based on long studies of real cases, in which children become victims of a dysfunctional social system and an inner, unsafe family space. And placing the subject in the midst of a close and almost idyllic society, where empathy seems to work more than it appears, is utterly overwhelming.
Released in 2018, Druk / Another Round is Vinterberg’s final film, and also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Thomas Winterberg, along with screenwriter Tobias Lindholm, initially set out to create a comedic drama about the importance of alcohol in human history, placing its characters in the same kind of closed society, more specifically within four friendly teachers, who establish themselves creed (self-referral here). ) With regard to alcohol, it is used in any circumstance, at any time, for almost medicinal purposes, purposes that inevitably become self-destructive. Ida Winterberg, the director’s daughter, was about to make her film debut, portraying Martin’s teenage daughter, played by the same child Mads Mikkelsen, as the child was worried about the direction his father was heading. Four days after the start of production, Ida dies in a car accident – the trauma felt by the author will reshape the course of the initial story and reshape the entire narrative world, dominated by personal suffering. By default, this film will become the most intimate, revealing and authentic story that Vinterberg manages to splendidly lead, combining playful, silly, childish elements (the four teachers’ competition in an alcohol race and games between them) personal drama, with self-destruction, with loneliness, practically with influences The irremediable that this initial “game” will inflict on the four characters and their families. One of the basic sequences of this movie, done with the same precision that we talked about before, is in which Martin dances, after all the personal and individual dramas that each of the four characters goes through (Mads Mikkelsen based on the choreographer and dancer, manages to deliver a thrilling performance , in keeping with the musical at the end of the film, What a Life, performed by the Danish band Scarlet Pleasure) – a sequence very far from film convention, utterly unexpected, unconventional and pragmatically dangerous exactly that moment of revival that Vinterberg spoke of regarding on the death of his daughter. The four teachers who became alcoholic will be welded into a therapy group, consistent with the real group needed by the author himself in the production of this movie.
“On location, I look somehow democratic, but I’m not,” the director said in a 2015 interview about Festen and his way of working, that undemocratic subtlety so conspicuously recreated in yet another round, that, motivated by personal circumstances or not, Vinterberg created this collaborative film. , along with his screenwriter and Mads Mikkelsen, this doctrinal rigor receives new values. The director’s entire cinematic journey is one that is balanced and steady, with three key moments, which run in escalation – Festen’s authorship style inevitably takes shape; Along with Lars von Trier, Suzanne Beyer, Harmony Korine, Thomas Winterberg is part of this ideal and improbable manifesto of desirable realism that quickly ceases to function. But it remains consistent with principles and subtlety, which becomes more evident later in the Jagten and another round, delicately adding those layers of depth, vulnerability and familiarity, without trying to limit the story to the confines of imposed convention like the .95 Creed. If the goal was originally a demonstration, represented by the building of an authentic world, in which there is no artificial light, gender convention, music outside the vegetation and no other prohibition in the precepts of faith, all these things serve the story as much as necessary. , and not changing the realism, but only enhancing the originality – the originality, but also those related to the actual mechanism of creating the film.
Elenka Stratton He is a film maker.
Photo: Thomas Winterberg (Image source: Magnus Fröderberg / norden.org – wikimedia commons)