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The Many Faces of Lars von Trier

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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A Season of Dogma
antichrist, The many faces of Lars von Trier, bfi, film
'Antichrist' (2009) by Lars von Trier

When I was studying film at university, I took a course in Dogma 95 cinema. It was a movement formed by the Danish director, Lars von Trier, and included a set of established rules that mimicked the Ten Commandments:

1. Thou shall not use props or sets

All filming must be done on location, and you can only use objects that were found in that place.

2. Sound must be authentic

You were not allowed to add any background music or sound effects; it had to be ambient noise.

3. Thou must use hand-held cameras

Steady cams and tripods are strictly forbidden.

4. No artificial lighting

Lightbulbs are a no no. Natural light only.

5. Optical effects are forbidden

Fans of CGI and 3D are going to struggle with this one.

6. No superficial action

This means events have to be realistic, and not feel constructed.

7. Thous must live in the present

No flashbacks, flash forwards, time travel, etc.

8. No Genre movies

You have to go for literary realism rather than sci-fi and westerns.

9. 35mm is essential

You cannot use any other type of film other than 35mm tape.

10. No director credits

These rules were pretty hard to follow, and even von Trier deviated from them. The fact that we know which films he directed is evidence of that. Even so, his work is innovative and unique, and the BFI are giving you the opportunity to see a selection of his films up until the 30th May. Tickets are between 8.50-11 (6 on Tuesdays) and it is a rare chance to take a look at something that diverges from the norm.

Out of his films, I would have recommended seeing Celebration, in which a family reunion reveals a dark secret. Unfortunately that is one of the films not being screened, so my next recommendation is The Idiots, in which three young people pretend to be mentally disabled. There are also many other films that you can choose from, including Antichrist, his most recent film from 2009, which flouts Commandment Number 8, with its horror-like style.
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Why? Fun for film lovers
When: Until 27th May
Phone: 020 7928 3232.
Where: BFI Southbank
Cost: 6-11
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