Essay on the Celebration

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Jonathan Gareau

2012-11-27

Thinking through film

In the film The Celebration, many controversial ideas and measures are used as opposed to Hollywood filmmaking. In many ways, this foreign film approaches film in an uncommon manner. The ‘vow of chastity’ and the light use of cinematography give more realism to this story. In addition, it doesn’t suit the dominant ideology of the Hollywood film industry. Finally, the subject matter in this film would never be approached the same way in America, because the awkward mood and touchy content.

First off, The Celebration, a Dogme95 production, uses only a handheld camera, no soundtrack and no artificial lighting in its making. This gives a sense of purity or ‘chastity’ to make the movie much more realist and therefore dramatic as well. For example, the use of a handheld, shaky camera in close-ups of Christian when he speaks at the dinner table gives a sense of instability and forces the viewer to feel the awkward feeling in the room as if they were in it with everyone else. It makes what he says all that more awkward, where if a tripod was used in those shots in order to give more stability in the speech, the outcome would’ve been much less awkward and dramatic. Furthermore, the absence of soundtrack in this film is quite obvious and creates different moods and a lot more intensity to the diegetic sounds of the scenes. At the beginning of the film, when Christian walks to get to the party in the fields, there is no music playing or anything, you only hear him talking on the phone, which sets the viewer automatically and quickly in the mood of the film. Usually, a soundtrack would’ve been added in that scene to draw the viewer a little slower into the film and not make him tied to his chair from the very start. In another part of the film, Michael beats up his dad at the end, there is no music to accompany the action, so that when Michael shouts and cries it is more true and the spectator really feels...
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