This film reminded me of an acting workshop being camcorded in the process of trying to make a movie. There is a reason for this and this is because that it’s Lars Von Trier’s first movie made according to the back-to-basics ‘Dogma 95’ manifesto or code of conduct.

To explain for those not aware of ‘Dogma 95’, I quote from the Director, Lars von Trier who stated that the “principal purpose of both Dogma 95 and The Idiots is to allow film-makers to relinquish artistic control, and make a push towards an ideal dramatic state that’s closer to camcorder voyeurism than to the sanitised gloss of mainstream cinema.”

In one incident during the film, a boom microphone’s shadow chases the characters up a sunlit gravel drive. There are also fluffed lines and technical gaffes which strangely for a film purist such as me are proudly flaunted in the film.

Basically the film centres on the emotional and social dynamics of a group of people who, for various reasons, go around pretending to be mentally and/or physically disabled.

This straight away raises questions as to whether the film should be regarded as demeaning to all who experience mental or physical disability, or are sick. Being someone who falls into the category of suffering mental and physical disability I decided to persevere to the end of the film despite the differing emotions inside me and what I saw as a complete lack of plot.

Why did I continue to watch, well, the film is intriguing, involving, and finally quite unlike anything else I have seen before. Also, the film raises questions about film making in general and whether such difficult and contentious issues should be used.

Whether I liked the film is immaterial because the answer to my own question is yes, as the film could be regarded as an important message about society’s attitude towards mentally and physically disabled people.
I should make readers aware that this film was recently shown on Channel 4’s banned season and was one of the first films allowed by the British Film Regulator to show certain scenes of an adult nature.

Country of Origin: Denmark

Release Date: 1998

Director: Lars Von Trier

Duration: 115 minutes

Certificate: 18 (Scene of an adult nature: sex / nudity / no violence)

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