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Era of special effects and spectacles

GAUTAMAN BHASKARAN

Not many films are now being made in the Dogme tradition, globally. Newer technical gizmos seem to have overshadowed everything.



DOGME FOLLOWER: Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier

Dogme was born in 1995, the year cinema celebrated a hundred years of its existence.

Lars von Trier, the often controversial Danish filmmaker, chose Paris to introduce this concept of Dogme in moviemaking, the city where the Lumiere Brothers had for the first time opened the magic possibilities of this medium. The rules of the Dogme were simple: shooting a film in actual locations in natural light without props, with synchronised sound and with handheld camera.

Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, another renowned director, took a vow to follow Dogme. They were trying to take cinema back to its original pristine form. That they broke thepromise is another story.

But Dogme was not an entirely novel feature. The Italian Neo-Realism (Vittorio de Sica and others) and the French New Wave (Francois Truffaut and others) had, in the 1950s and the 1960s, gone back to the roots of the celluloid world in an attempt to free cinema from the excessive paint and sheen that it had acquired. Satyajit Ray, an ardent devotee of Italian Neo-Realism, made movies that were absolutely authentic. In the early 1950s, Ray began shooting his first work, "Pather Panchali" in actual locations, moving out of the studios as had been the practice till then.

Hailed as a pioneer of this cinema, Ray used a lot of natural light, and even some form of synchronised sound. ``He did his dubbing sometimes in actual locations, so that the film would sound as natural as possible'' says Jesper Andersen, Programme Editor of the Danish Film Institute and Cinemateque in Copenhagen, who was recently in Chennai trying to organise a retrospective of Mani Ratnam's works in Denmark this November.

Most Indian movies are dubbed in studios after the shoot is over, and Andersen feels that ``sometimes dubbing is poor, and this happens with the works of even better known directors.''

Even in Europe, Dogme had a limited run. But what made Von Trier and Vinterberg go for it in the first place? Andersen avers that ``they were tired of conventional moviemaking and wanted to get back to cinematic basics: good story telling, a sense of dialogue and focus on actresses and actors.''

Asthe world races towards big budget spectacles, the actors begin to appear more like painted puppets, their roles and performances overshadowed by the excitement of newer technical gizmos.

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