catapult magazine

catapult magazine




Oct 31 2003
02:34 am

Holy Crap. Who has seen this? Talk to me.


Feb 05 2005
12:28 am

okay. so kirstin and i finally got around to seeing dogville and it is amazing. we literally just finished watching it; my mind is reeling.

at the moment, i’m thinking the story is straight up biblical. does anyone else have any new thoughts on the film?


Feb 09 2005
12:05 pm

I think the movie is great. Lots of people like to read this is a political film, but I think it works much better as a spiritual allegory. Von Trier is working on two sequels. Hopefully they’ll be as good as Dogville.

Von Trier is the most audacious filmmaker of this generation. This film combined with Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark accounts for one of the most original work cinema of the past 10 years.


Mar 07 2005
12:28 am

Oh, that. I’ve heard it called something else, but the name eludes me. Something with a 5 in it. I’d also recommend Italian for Beginners in that genre. The difference between these films and Dogville is that, while the “Dogma” films I’ve seen use only natural light and handheld cameras, Dogville uses spare theatrical lighting and on occasion throws in a stationary or moving shot where the camera is obviously mounted, with the rest apparently on handheld.
Thanks for the recommendations.

It’s actually not technically Dogma, it’s Dogme 95.

Dogville definitely doesn’t conform to the Dogme95 rules, which are as follows:

1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).

Dogville was shot on a soundstage, with no location – it’s mostly imaginary, though there are some props used.

2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot).

There is a lot of overlaid sound in Dogville, such as doors closing where no door exists, etc. Also there is use of non-diagetic music, like Vivaldi’s Nisi Dominus, which is used to amazing effect.

3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place).

As far as I recall, Dogville was shot mostly handheld, except for some crane shots of the town from above.

4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).

Dogville is in color, but they obviously didn’t shoot with available light solely, because they shot on a soundstage, not on location.

5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.

There’s a brilliant bit of optical work with Grace in the back of the apple truck. Just gorgeous.

6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)

Um…no comment. :) Let’s just say Dogville doesn’t comply with this rule either.

7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)

Dogville takes place there and then (e.g. in America during the Depression, not Denmark during the 21st century)

8. Genre movies are not acceptable.

I don’t know what genre you’d put Dogville in, put it’s definitely not a straightforward narrative.

9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.

I am not sure about this one.

10. The director must not be credited.
Yeah, von Trier was definitely credited. :)

I think it’s interesting because Dogville is in some ways the complete opposite of the Dogme films. The Dogme rules were introduced to rid films of artifice and “short cuts” and just have realism and naturalism as much as possible, creating a filmed fictional version of “real life” in essence. But Dogville is all about being theatrical, unrealistic, filmic…it reminds you at every turn that it’s make believe. I think that’s really fascinating… it’s sort of what Baz Luhrmann did with his red curtain trilogy (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge) but taken to an even more intense level of artificiality and distancing the audience, constantly reminding them “this is a movie.”


Mar 07 2005
10:46 am

thanks for that, bethany. i didn’t realize until reading your post how deliberately van trier was breaking his own rules with this film. it’s a little like u2 in their cynical phase.


Mar 07 2005
10:12 pm

u2 had a cynical phase? explain in full sentences.


Mar 08 2005
08:03 am

I believe dan is referring to the Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZooTV/Pop/PopMart portion of U2’s career, though I think it could be described more accurately as overwhelmingly ironic rather than cynical.


Mar 23 2005
07:25 pm


] is ambitious, the first of a proposed trilogy by Van Trier that exposes the ‘real’ America. Give me a break. If ambition were the entirety of the craft of directing, then Van Trier would succeed. But that’s not enough. Here, Van Trier spits in the face of a nation he is not even from, spewing forth his vile as some sort of critique of American hypocrisy. The setting, which reminds us of [i:d43b21b088]Our Town[/i:d43b21b088], becomes increasingly grating and unabashedly linked to Van Trier’s hammer of a message. Surrounded by darkness, save for the studio lights, the town is composed of chalk-lined outlines of buildings. The lack of walls add a transparency that continuously nudges you and shouts, “Get it? We don’t keep secrets here! Aren’t I clever?!” The chapter format lends nothing to the film but additional eye-rolling—in fact, if you manage to endure the labor of hate through its entirety, you may find your gaze permanently locked in a sarcastic eye-rolled fashion for a week thereafter. The character of Grace undergoes a transformation that is unbelievable, similar to the way in which we are asked to suspend our belief unreasonably in many instances. The most offensive aspect of [i:d43b21b088]Dogma[/i:d43b21b088] is not its message (although what’s Van Trier’s doing ripping America for?), but the manner in which it is so carelessly displayed. In dire need of an editor, a reconfigured set design, and a bit more subtlety and depth, [i:d43b21b088]Dogma[/i:d43b21b088] gives proof that the oft-overused word “pretentious” still packs a punch in the most urgent cases. Pretentious and dull. Not to mention a cheap shot. Thank heavens Nicole Kidman had a falling out with Van Trier.

  • out of **** (for certain performances, ambition without execution)


Mar 26 2005
07:49 pm

I wanted to comment on CineMamet’s thoughts on Dogville. I don’t consider myself any sort of expert on cinema- and appreciated the lessons about Dogme95- however there are a couple things I would like to speak to.
I watched Dogville this last week and am still processing the film. I tend to be like Adam. I don’t know what tho think. I found it extraordinarily powerful. It made me reflect on my fundamentalist upbringing and how that affected my image of God growing up.
First, yes it seems clear that von Trier holds America in contempt for its materialism and lack of ability to take care of the “least of these” in her midst. However, regardless of whether he has been here or not, there is truth to what he says. Historically we have done this (and continue to do so). My question is “Is he a prophet crying in the wilderness or merely a anti-American European spewing bile?”
The next question is equally important and I think speaks to Adam’s reaction back when he first saw this (“Holy Crap!”) Is there anything to be learned from this film about the nature of God or is this simply one man’s skewed view of Him/Her? Any thoughts?