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At the end it is announced that the Dogme director must “refrain from personal taste” and “from creating a “work””, and must give up being “an artist”.
Instead the “supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings” and to avoid “any good taste and any aesthetics.” The first part of the text has the typical manifesto character – an ideological proclamation where criticism, judgments, and opinions are presented with rhetorical power.
It equals a harsh diet: painful, perhaps, but good for you in the long run.
But it is also a kind of (self)punishment, a confession of faith and a promise of obeying rules that cannot be questioned (the same way religious dogmas cannot).
The Dogme manifesto clearly has points in common with the earlier manifestos, that in different ways have called for change, freedom and more realism. But the originality of the Dogma manifesto is that it not only comes up with the usual declarations and intentions, but that it explicitly offers a particular method of filmmaking, outlines a positive program, an alternative procedure of filmmaking, not in abstract terms but very literal.
According to producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen, Trier talked about the Dogme concept back in 1992, when they started the film company Zentropa together. Trier had early plans for a book on filmmaking with the title Dogme; he liked this word with its element of a truth that could not be questioned, and the word “felt good in the mouth.” More directly, Dogme was developed from his experience in 1994 with the TV mini-series , a mixture of comedy, hospital drama and ghost story, where Trier experimented with using deliberately faulty and imperfect visuals, marked by shaky handheld shots and grainy distorted colors, partly in order to create a special visual style, partly – by omitting a lot of time-consuming lighting preparations for each shot and by ignoring classical rules of film ‘grammar’ like the 180° rule – to simplify (and thereby shorten and reduce the cost of) the shooting process. The author of this article (who was Trier’s teacher during his years of film studies at The University of Copenhagen 1976-79) had a telephone call from Trier in early 1995.The most obvious example of a film manifesto, probably, would be the Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962.The short text, signed by 26 young German filmmakers, concluded with the proclamation: “The old film is dead.Director Lars von Trier at the centre of the picture. Dziga Vertov of course wrote several in the 1920s – this was after all a suitable means of expression in the revolutionary USSR – but they concerned documentary films.Also Lindsay Anderson’s Free Cinema manifesto (1956) was directed at documentaries, but it influenced British feature films in the early 1960s as well.