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Dogme(fill in the year)

Dogme(fill in the year)

In 1995, Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg (later joined by Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen) issued the manifesto known as Dogme95, an attempt to "purify" filmmaking by doing away with gimmicks and special effects. Embedded in the Manifesto was a "Vow of Chastity," 10 guidelines for purification, such as "filming must be done on location," and "the sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa."

Theatre has its own need for purification, though the divide is different here than it is for cinema. The divide I seen in theatre is between "theatre" or the "theatrical" and the "dramatic" - the presentational vs. the gravitational.

In screenwriting class, we were told that "if a scene is about what the scene is about, then you're in deep shit," meaning that if the scene lacked subtext, if it lacked a subterranean flow that pulled us in one direction while the surface flow pulled us in another, then the scene lacked drama, "punch." All the audience is doing is watching an unfolding rather than an uncovering, neck-and-neck with the velocity of the scene rather than a little behind and working to catch up.

If subtext-turned-to-text defines "theatrical," what makes the dramatic "dramatic"? David Mamet once said (and this is a rough paraphrase, taken from memory) that all great plays are, at heart, mystery plays, and that the characters in them are trying to say the unsayable.

Dogme95's effort to "force the truth out of [the] characters and setting" was another way of saying this: abjure the tricks of the trade in favor of as unmediated a presentation as possible of the tectonics between the text and subtext of the characters' struggles to make sense of the yet-to-be-sensed.

My Dogme(fill in the year) would say the same.