Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Festen (The Celebration) (1998)

Today's film is The Celebration.  The movie was okay, just not the camerawork.  The celebration is for Helge's 60th birthday party.

Helge has four adult children, Michael, Helene, and the twins Christian and Linda.  Recently, Linda has killed herself.  Helge asks Christian to give a speech at his birthday when all of their relatives are gathered to eat dinner.  Christian takes this opportunity to explain to everyone why his twin killed herself, because their dad raped them often as children.  That had to take a lot of courage.  Still, almost no one believes him until his sister, Helene, reads a letter written by their sister.  After that, the whole mood changes and everyone realizes what a villain Helge is.

One thing I could not stand was the camerawork.  It is part of an artsy fartsy movement called Dogme.  That means there is no soundtrack, no music and all the cameras are handheld.  Sure it provides realism, but it greatly detracted from the film and gave it an overall cheap feel to it.  I would have given this film a higher score if it were not entrapped by this poor camera handling.  I felt like I was watching The Office or a college-student-made documentary, not a decent film.  So, I'm forced to give this film a 5/10.


  1. I also felt that the shakycam detracted from what could have been a very powerful story. I actually feel it was too bad that the director let his camerwork overshadow his story.

  2. Well, I actually liked the handheld camera. It was a novelty at the time it came out and it gave the film a sense of reality that makes the story stronger. Later I have come to loath handheld camera, so I understand your opinion, but back then in the nineties when I saw this in the cinema it was a very strong experience. Scary, emotional, recognizable and hilariously funny in a very dark manner.

    1. Thanks. I had no idea this was supposed to be funny.