I’m sitting here, with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I thought I came prepared, but I guess I didn’t.
I’ve just finished watching the Danish Dogme 95 movie; The Celebration by Thomas Vinterberg. I’ve watched a couple of the Dogme movies, but I only liked Italian for Beginners by Lone Scherfig and Open Hearts by Susanne Bier. Those movies didn’t suffer under the very strict rules in Dogme 95, I found that some of the others did.
You can read more about the rules and stuff on this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogme_95
My post isn’t gonna be about Dogme 95, even though I might write about it someday, because it did revolutionize the Danish filmmaking industry in a way. Forcing the movies to be carried by the story and the actors. No special effects, no airbrushed pictures, just the truth.
So, I’ve finally watched The Celebration, it has been on my to do list, for about ten years. But I’ve had a hard time finding the energy to watch, because I had this idea that it would be slow-moving and exhausting. Why did I wanna watch it? You might think. Well, because it’s just THE Danish film, one of those you just need to watch. Like Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (Uh two other movies, I definitely should write about)
The movie starts with us seeing Christian, from a far distance talking on his cellphone, walking on a small country road with fields on each side. Christian is going to his fathers sixties birthday. You immediately get the impression that Christian is the quite type.
Then, his younger brother Mikael and his family drives by, they stop. Mikael is married to Mette, they have three kids. They are both very loud, and fight and yell all the time. Mikael is extremely flamboyant, and you quickly sees him as the rotten able.
When the two of them reach the huge manor, this family owns, the receptionist tells Mikael that he isn’t on the guest list, due to some drunken incident last year. It’s a great scene, where Mikael, played by Thomas Bo Larsen, yells and has a complete freak-out in front of the cool receptionist, played by Lars Brygman. To end the discussion, Mikael, played by Ulrich Thomsen tells the receptionist to give his brother a room, and that he’ll talk to their father. I immediately like Christian, he seems like the mediator of the family.
Then we meet Christian younger sister Helene played by Paprika Steen. She’s seems like a party girl and a free spirit. She immediately picks a fight with Mikael, because he shouldn’t be there. She’s mad that he didn’t attend their older sisters funeral. The older sister, Linda was Christian’s twin, and had killed herself a year before this party.
I will not walk you through every scene, but wow it was good. Almost all the actors are beyond brilliant. And it’s definitely them who carries this movie. The story is interesting as well, but it could so easily have tilted in a bad direction. I guess this is why it’s only a-list Danish actors, who got a part in this movie. I loved this, I love when a movie depends on its actors. No, action scenes and ridiculous scenery to make the audience forget how horrible the actors are. This is a very emotional film, and well the actors are amazing.
Then the celebration really starts. At the dinner table Christian bangs his glass, and says that he would like to hold a speech. He says that there are two speeches, a yellow and a green, and that the father has to pick one. The father picks the green one. The father’s name is Helge, forgot to mention that 🙂 And is played brilliantly by one of my all-time favourite actors Henning Mouritzen.
The green speech is the truth speech. Christian starts the speech by saying that it’s called; When daddy needed a shower. The entire party laughs, then Christian continues telling the story of how his father raped his sister and himself. All the guests are silent, none of them believes that Helge would do such a thing, because he seems like the perfect nicest man in the world.
Christian leaves, embarrassed. Then he goes into the kitchen, where his childhood friend, the cook, tells him to keep going, tells him to let the truth out. Helge comes into the kitchen, to talk to the staff and Christian. He says to Christian that he can’t remember, any of the things he was talking about. First Christian apologizes, and says that maybe he remembered wrong. But ones the father has left, he gets angry.
He rejoin the party, and continues his speech. Then some of the guests including Mikael gets furious and take Christian to the woods and bind him to a tree.
The celebration has taken a break. Everybody being confused due to the currents events. But eventually they continue.
Then the toastmaster, says that Helene (the sister) should give a toast. She’s very nervous and seems completely out of her mind. She decides to read her sister suicide note out loud, she had found this earlier that same day.
The letter confirms Christian’s accusations against his father. In the letter Linda keeps writing how much she loves her twin brother. And something that made me cry, she wrote that she looked forward to die, and that she’d always known that she shouldn’t stay. Ouch. Helge, looks horrified by this letter. Half because he now knows that he’s the reason his daughter is dead, and half because his entire life just fell to the grown.
This might sound trivial, but I haven’t mentioned half of what happens in this movie. You are never bored.
There are two actors I haven’t mentioned, and that Birthe Neuman, who plays the mother. She completely blew me away. She’s the wife of a man who have had sex with her children, her portrait of this woman is an inspiration.
Then there’s Trine Dyrholm. I love her. She’s a horrible pop-singer turned into one of the greatest actresses in Denmark. Respect.
All in all. I’m glad that I finally watched it, it was long over due and I regret that. I will watch it again, because it was just brilliant. Of course there where horrible moments and tough passages that made your heart skip a beat. But it was never too unpleasant and unwatchable like most Lars Von Trier movies. Buhja, finally made it fit to trash him a little bit 😉
So, all in all a great movie, that definitely was worth spending time on.