Essential Viewing: Watch Lars von Trier, Wim Wenders, & More in ‘FreeDogme’
Warning: this is the best.
Back in 1984, beloved German filmmaker Wim Wenders brought together a handful of film’s most iconic and brilliant minds—from Jean Luc-Godard to RW Fassbinder (just before his death)—to discuss the future of cinema. Titled Room 666, the 45-minute film makes you ache so badly to have been a fly on the wall in the Cannes hotel room in which they shot. But in a similar vein of cinematic discourse—and one that feels more candid and personal—in 2000 Marie Berthelius and Roger Narbonne made FreeDogme—a film in the form of a video conference call between Lars von Trier, Win Wenders, Lone Scherfig, and Jean-Marc Barr—noting that Harmony Korine was supposed to show up to the party but was sadly absent.
Intended to explore the ways in which technology and its constant evolution effects the art of film and cinematic practice, we see the filmmakers in their personal spaces, stripped of the usual interview facades engaging in a conversation that’s both fascinating and inspiring, as well just absolutely delightful to watch. Smiling and more buoyant than we’re used to seeing, Lars is clad in a t-shirt and shorts outside in sunny nature, and claims that it was Wenders’ early work that inspired a large part of his desire to create Dogme95—to get back to a kind of poeticism and simplicity. Of course Wenders denies his responsibility in Dogme95, but says that most of the films he made in the beginning were not “necessary” and that attracted him to Dogme95’s aesthetic and sensibility was that Lars and his cohorts were making movies out of necessity again—and “with an existential approach.”
Wim recollects of his early films, which again Lars found inspirational for Dogme 95, that they had an existential necessity he felt he subsequently lost, but that he was rediscovering via the technological innovations appropriated by, for instance, Dogme 95. Wim is suggesting that the new technology again makes possible, for him, a kind of necessity to film.
Marie Berthelius asks Lars to sum up the “spirit” of the rules. Lars replies “the spirit of the rules was only to have rules” because this would enable a withdrawal from conventions where “everything looks like everything.” Dogme 95, in this sense, renews the artistic idea of making it new. The rules were also intended to facilitate discussion about making films, for Lars, in the sense that, as in a church, a few central dogmas provide a common vocabulary, premised on shared background assumptions.
Participants discuss whether or not the Dogme 95 rules and technological constraints increase precision in the act of filming, and in what sense.
So with all the teasing of Lars’ Nymphomaniac tickling away at you and the anticipation for Wenders’ Every Thing Will Be Fine running high, take a look at the wonderful cinematic exploration below.