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Dogme Principle and Realism

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Dogme 95 is a movement which was the stabilized in Denmark in 1995 by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinter berg. And they set out or they placed a manifesto; and they call the manifesto refer to it as vow of the chastity, that they should be, you know it is like a religious text we will stick it, to the Dogme. So, the idea was to focus on the form of cinema, not necessarily the content. And it had the all features of so called realistic cinema which you would find in Italian neorealism and French new wave; we will be discussing that soon but largely they dealt with bleak aspects of life. So, we will not find our entertainment there, if you are looking entertainment as the way we understand. Some of the Dogme principle for shooting on the location and using no artificial proofs; showing city or the location as it is. Student: There was one movie which shot entirely on a set, the town is represented with square boxes, this is the movie with Nicole Kidman, Students: Dogville. What is the theme of the movie? Perhaps, there he has taken a break from adhering to Dogme principles. Of course when you take big stars, then it comes with compulsions. Sound must not be produced, using real sound and not the dubbed version. Camera must be handheld, and if you remember this particular clipping from Dog Day Afternoon; you do feel that is the camera is never static, spanning around, its moving, it’s as restless as an edgy as the characters. Color as it is, natural with no special lights to beautify it, no optical works and filters. What do these so called filters do, camera filters, if you are interested in photography? No one is using a filter to capture me, let me assure you. They give your skin a very consistent look that is one, also filters are normally used to beautify and prettify actors; make them look twenty years younger than what they are, particularly, the actors are forty five years or you know even fifty years old people who are playing teenagers on screen. You use the special filters which would make them, you can think of many numbers of films. That is the idea to make the movie; the so called you know give a glossy look to the film but then that is artificiality, therefore that is what Dogme did not want. No melodrama, I want you to understand, what melodrama is. Explain to me, what is melodrama? I have a feeling that what you are going to tell, but I want to hear it from you.Rehaan, what is melodrama?Student: I do not know.What is melodrama?Student: What is cheesy!Student: Something that is trying to lead you to some catharsis in whatever way be, over the top way.In over the top way, over the top kind of emotions,give me an example so that people who are watching us understand it.Student: P.S. I love you.P.S. I love you, melodramatic.Student: Om Shanti Om,Devdas, but you know Om Shanti Om is the verycleverly done film; it also subverts and spoof its own melodrama, it is a different kindof melodrama; it is very self conscious about its melodramatic aspiration.Student: Is melodrama have to be over top play? Is Ghatak movie is melodramatic?Not necessarily, they are quite realistic but melodrama you know; are essentially thosemovies which try to squeeze out emotions from you.So, certain representations or remakes I would call of Devdascould be termed as melodramatic, but not every visit to Devdas is necessarily,although the plot itself is quite in the sentimental.So, sometime it cannot be helped.I would request you to watch a movie, perhaps I may not able to be screen it, because I have alist of film that I want you to watch; it is called 21 Grams, 21 Grams, Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts.Critic has often interpreted 21 Grams is a very good example of melodrama;perhaps one of these, it is a good way to understand what is the melodrama and if youagree that it is a melodrama, but then it all depends on how it is done,whether it is over a top melodrama or it is a subdued melodrama.If you look at plot of 21 Grams, it is an out and out melodrama.A woman’s husband get killed and his heart is transplanted in a dying man‘s heartand then that this dying man played by Sean Penn;he comes alive and falls in love with the widow of the dead man and she also responds.It is the narrative that saves the movie, plot is melodramatic.What are genres? No, genres are not easy to explain. Usually we say western is a genre,we also say gangster is a genre; category but then genre itself is heavily contested termand scholars like Rick Altman have done phenomenal work on understanding what is the genre.But coming back to our Dogme principle;genres are unacceptable.They do not want to make a kind of movie which can be categorized.No making or no filming of genre kind of movies.They also gave some technical dictates, like format should be 35 mm, not cinema-scope format.And this is interesting; they wanted to make it very clear that cinema is the collaborative art,so there no is such thing is an auteur.Remember those who join this course late, it is for them what is an auteur; please look it up,I think we refer to it in one our initial classes. So, director should not be credited,director by so and so that means, director is the captain of the ship not for those whobelieved in Dogme principles.Film is a collaborative art that is what they believed.Student: Surreal imagery and obviously, those may not be shot in the in a real location,it should be; again he himself is.Contradicting himself? Not necessarily.See when they say a movie should be shot according to Dogme principles, then the manifesto is sacred,but sometime if they occasionally if they want to break out then why not.So, perhaps one of the films just mentioned Dogville or Antichrist, definitely not subscribingto Dogme principles but that is what he wanted to do at a particular moment that is what.Now, Cinema Varite, literally it means truthful cinema,more or less the same principles usuallyshot with light hand-held cameras, actual locations; and this is important now shootingwith real people, making film with real people the way De Sica did in The Bicycle Thieves.Those were a non-professional actors, they were not actors who were in the profession of acting,just pick them from somewhere and ask them to act, very often it happens,non-professional actorswithin a constraints of budget.An interesting thing is that they execute the idea of having a bound script.One of these days, we will have real screen writertalking to you about, how important it is to have the bound screen play.We had someone like Jaideep Sahni, two years back with us who to wrote the screen play for Chak De Indiaand several successful films, company etc. And where he felt that, it is very importantto have the sanctity of a bound script. But cinemas verity felt that films can be shotwithout a script shoot it the way it comes to you and later we will edit it and make a movie out of it.We have already seen social realism or soviet socialist realism.We also talked about Lev Kuleshov’s the man with a movie camera;capturing, this is what he did before these concepts became fashionable.So, whatever people like Lev Kuleshov and Eisenstein did those days, Dogme and so called cinema verity,they just you know expanded on that, but the idea was much present.Again to respond to your concept of surrealism, which was a short lived artistic movement, but then againVon Trier brings it back in Antichrist. The idea was to explore subjective and not objective;we were talking about distinction between objectivity and subjectivity.So, here to capture real, dream like states, capture subjectivity during dream states,and was concern with subverting the logic of representation.Surrealism at one level plays with narrative form.I will give you some example. This is a still from ‘Un Chien Andalou’ by Luis Bunuel,a Spanish master,where you see close up of a women’s eye and a man’s hand holdinga razor blade and trying to, what? Trying to do what? Yes cut her across her eye ball.This is the greatest kind of realism one can attain.Did he actually do it?Whose eye was that?Student: Calf’s eyesCalf’s eyes, but actually had a Calf, and that hand belongs to the director himself.How real can you get?Now, the Italian neorealism, they focus on the films of working class people.Again think Dog Day Afternoon, we were talking about poverty,we were talking about chasm between the rich and poorAnd Italian realism became a vehicles for filmmakers who were interestedin description of Italian history and society. Again it exposes the same idea as soviet socialist cinema.And also some of our own new wave parallel cinema of the 70’s were concernedwith the same idea, same principles; in a just society the means of production wouldbe more justly distributed, evenly distributed.Italian neo-realistic cinema also was basedon true incidents, just the way you have Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon based; so theyas far as possible, they tried to base the plots on real and true incidents,occasionally they also used newsreel footage.As in cinema verity, as in Dogme principles' manifesto theyaspire to shoot films on as much as possible on actual locations and tried using non-professional actors,actors who are not really trained to be, people who are not trained to be actors.How many of you familiar with theorist called Fredric Jameson?Are you? Not really, Fredric Jameson;The Political Unconscious is the book, and also there is another book called the Signature of the Visible.And Fredric Jameson who is supposedly the most influentialliterary critic of our times, he has written extensively on several aspects of our livesand cinema and society where he discusses threadbare ‘Dog Day Afternoon’.So, Italian neorealism; the plot and character were often used as vehicle for ideas.Those of you who are familiar with the work of, Bertolt Brecht; a German dramatist, he uses the term calledagit-prop, agitation and propaganda.All art should lead to the agitation and propaganda that should,that means in other words art should be a vehicle of ideas, not just for entertainment.So, legacy of neorealism is extremely impressive and if you look at the films of Satyajit Ray;especially Ray’s early cinema, you just mentioned Ghatak. If you watch his cinema, thenyou will understand that how these people continued the legacy of new realism.Roberto Rossellini, another practitioner of Italian new realism, and one of his most well knownmovies is Open City Rome 1945; again dealing with the particular historical event and havingnon-professional actors in the lead roles, shot on actual location, natural light with natural sound.De Sica’s the Bicycle Thieves. And many of time we are asked what is surrealismand how far is it different from realism. I told you surrealism is concerned basicallywith interpreting a state of mind, dream like state.Magic realism on the other hand is associated with the fantastic in films and literature of course.So, many of these Latin American writers, Isabella Alan for example, Laura Esquivel, like Water for Chocolate,they resort to using magic realism.Even a film like, ‘Chocolat’ based on novel, it plays on that element.These are realistic works, films as well as the literature they are based on,But why use the elements of magic realism at all?What does this tone or tinge of magic do to these films?Whenever they want to portrait character which is non-conformist,it is always safer to use magic realism because many a times, when you present themin a stalk realism they may become monotonous; that is the idea, Marquis does it all the time,Salman Rushdie does it all the time.Now, it has become a common place device,practically every second writer uses this device, but that was not the intention and purpose.It was used for reason. It has become like as common as jump cut now.Pan’s Labyrinth is another interesting movie, we should be doing it. Well it combines elementsof realism and magic realism; it is not no, because when certain filmmakers and writersthey want to convey certain political truths, they resort to magic realism that is the idea.When they want to add a layer to the character as she said, they resort to magic realism;otherwise it will end of becoming a documentary that saves it from becoming a documentary.But still it tries to convey certain truths.Not exactly magic realism, but it has the categories of its own.See, we are going to now look at, there is no category, there isno genre, but broadly speaking Eternal sunshine is cinema of the mind.Mind has several layers to it; yesterday we were discussing Old Boy, hypnosis, eraser of memory.So, all these things are also done in Eternal sunshine, so cinema of the mind; Memento.Pan’s Labyrinth by Del Toro is definitely example of magic realism.And these are comic films, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey; they employ magicrealism in order to convey certain comic elements, they have no other higher purpose, entertaining films,watch them but definitely they are not, we could not call them realistic also,but they do employ the device of magic realism.This is what I was talking about as contrastedwith poetic realism; you have the category of dirty realism.So, the word itself says it all poetic realism,you understand what is poetic realism and dirty realism? You understand what I mean?Think of ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’ is an example of dirty realism.Think of ‘Trainspotting’ that is one of the greatest movies ever made, bleak stories of everyday lifeand told (()); there is no romanticization there, no glossing over there.And very closely associated is the idea of gritty realism, life and its struggles in realistic manner.Again look, think of 127 hours.Ken Loach is considered one of the greatest exponents of gritty realism, Ken Loach.Absolutely, the movie, what was that moviethat beat Lagan at the Oscars? No man's land, No man's land is the very good example ofgritty realism, watch it, it is not as bleak. But of course it deals with not so glamorousaspects of life, after all it’s about war, watch it, a wonderful movie.Whereas the realism in Lagan; the so called realism in Laganand you contrast it with No man's land, and you will understand.Student: Gangs of Wasseypur.Gangs of Wasseypur of course, but then you know again we are talking about the parallelcinema movements in India which is happening, which has become main stream.Dipaker Banerjee’s movies, basically I mean think Shanghai, Shore in the city.All these cities symphonies,they are basically adhering to these principles, but then of course they are glamorizes version.I mean, Once upon a time in Mumbai, I do not have to elaborate on that; but Shore in the city,it claims to be extremely realistic, it tries to be.We had the director, who spoke at one of our recent conferences, Krishna D. K Shore in The City.So, we will continue tomorrow, thank you very much.