REBEL YELL: The politics of The Celebration/Festen (1998)
Author: Goss, Brian Michael
Source: Studies in European Cinema, Volume 6, Numbers 2-3, December 2009 , pp. 215-227(13)
Abstract:The Celebration/Festen (Thomas Vinterberg, 1998, Denmark) was the first film to have been certified under the rigours of the Dogme95 Vow of Chastity (von Trier and Vinterberg, 1995). It is also notable as a political film that presents a rebellion against an abusive patriarchal regime on the microcosmic bourgeoisie estate during the titular birthday celebration. In fashioning a comprehensive treatment of The Celebration's text and its context, I open with an account of ideology that is indebted to the materialist emphases of Louis Althusser (1994) and Terry Eagleton (1991). Next, I briefly address the trajectory of Denmark's national film history out of which Dogme and The Celebration emerge. With respect to Dogme, I cross-examine assumptions about realism by positing it as irreducibly a style and artistic strategy (Stam 2000); in turn, I shift the accent from the quest for realism to whether The Celebration meets the looser standard of being surface-plausible. In detail, I discuss the film's style as it deviates from realism via shadings of foreshadowing and extensive cross-cutting. Finally, I interpret the film as a progressive (but not humourless) myth of bottom-up revolt against abusive authority and the ideologies that nourish it.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Saint Louis University
Publication date: December 1, 2009
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