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January 02, 2003

Dogme 95

Jean rented Italian for Beginners over our holiday break. This is, to the best of my knowledge, my first exposure to a film made under the strictures of the Dogme 95 'vow of chastity'. Filmed with a digital video camera, the story is that of normal human relations, without bombs or fisticuffs (in contrast to another movie I saw in the theatre over my holiday break, The Gangs of New York). The only music in the film is music occurring in the given environment. There is no musical score. This is reminiscent of Touch of Evil, Orson Welles' film of corruption in a Mexican-American border town.

To be clear, I enjoy the better Hollywood blockbusters, and the occasional blockbuster which is not truly of Hollywood, such as Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which I saw last Thursday with several of my friends. And I had some initial misgivings when the film started and it became clear that it was shot in video. But as the story unfolded, I became involved in the characters' travails, and by the end, both Jean and I were contributing excited comments about what was happening. The final scene is notable as much for what it doesn't spell out regarding the characters' fates as for what it does.

If you can handle slow movies with lots of dialogue, and are not put off by handheld video imagery, try this movie. Jean and I intend to seek out some of the other Dogme 95 films, at least the ones which have won awards and are therefore easily available.

Posted by dpwakefield at January 2, 2003 10:31 AM