Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Idiots (Idioterne) (Dogme #2)

Hi there!

I've been away for a couple of weeks because I've been a bit busy (though I've been updating the twitter page on the right of the page), but now it's business as usual haha!

Thanks to everyone who has checked out, joined and commented on the page. Keep the comments coming I do enjoy having a discussion about the films on the page, or anything else for that matter!

Also you may have noticed if you've been to the page before that there has been a few design changes here and there, especially the new title designed by my good friend M. Deary (who also has a blog at In time there should be a few more changes to the page hopefully.

Anyway, about the film.

"The Idiots" is a 1998 film by the always controversial Lars von Trier (Antichrist), made in compliance with the intentions set out in the Dogma '95 Manifesto. You may be wondering what the Dogma Manifesto is all about but first about the film.

The story basically revolves around a group of intellectuals residing in a large house, who set out to challenge peoples sensibilites and cause general anarchy by acting mentally retarded. The film begins as they recruit a lone diner called Karen while "spassing" in a restaurant. Once back at the house, Stoffer (the groups leader), tells Karen about his intentions. He plans to take on society or the "bourgeois" as he likes to call them, who he feels prohibit their intelligence and creativity, by provoking the public with their increasingly outrageous behaviour.

Stoffer feels that by acting as mentally retarded, he can play off the reactions of the general public and truly be creative and free to do as he likes. He also loves the idea of people with disabilities having total innocence and acting only by instinct. I think that he believes that they are the only ones who are truly free in the world.

After "spassing" out in a variety of different locations (at the swimming pool, a bar etc), and the famous orgy scene, the group slowly begins to dissolve. Two of the young members of the group begin to fall in love, only for the girls father to come to the house and take her away. Stoffer seems to be cracking under the pressure also as he struggles with trying to stall his Uncles sale of the house in which they are staying, and is fighting with his own agenda's. Simply "spassing" just won't work after a while as it only stalled his anger for a short while and he feels that he is the only one committed to his cause.

Stoffer challenges the group to go home and spass out in front of their friends and loved ones. After everyone backs out, Karen is the only one who goes through with his demands.

What happens after that I will leave for you to find out!

Lars von Trier wrote the film in four days. It is the second film in his Golden Heart Trilogy, between "Breaking The Waves" and "Dancer In The Dark". It has garnered a lot of controversy over the years with its taboo breaking story. I can understand why people would get upset with a film like this. It openly tries to provoke it's viewer and force a reaction. It can either be called a disgusting little film that takes pleasure in ridiculing people who cannot properly defend themselves, taking advantage of disability. Or it can be seen as razor sharp satire, at times guiltily funny. To me it has one clear message, it tells that life can be too serious for it's own good, and that people should not be so inhibited and find enjoyment in the simpler thing in life. And basically be yourself and don't give a damn about how others perceive you!

 Anyway, thats the message I got. I guess the film is open to a lot of interpretation haha!

The Dogma '95 Manifesto is a filmmaking movement started by Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. The rules set forth also called the "Vow of Chastity" are:

  1. Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed.
  3. The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.
  4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.
The directors wanted to go in the complete opposite direction as where film was going with high budgets and production values. Also it helped unknown filmmakers who could get funding from the Government or tv stations to make a recognised film without having to go down the Hollywood route.

I hope you enjoyed my take on this controversial classic. Please leave comments and get a conversation going on or leave some criticism it's up to you. There is also a link to my twitter page to the right, I would love it if you could join and spread the word!

The next blog will be for "Ghostwatch". I'm not too sure how many people have watched this outside the UK but there are links on the internet for viewing it. There is also a blog for it and you'll find a link to the page on the right.

Thanks again for taking the time to read the page!



  1. Mitchell Danvers16 March 2011 at 12:57

    I guess more and more TV and film makers are deliberately courting controversy to try and prove a point - and perhaps feeling that any publicity is good publicity, if people overreact or take it the wrong way. Brass Eye, anyone?

  2. Hey there,

    Good write-up, Michael! Just one comment: The original title is not quite right. You're quoting the German DVD which has the title in German. The original (Danish) title is "Idioterne".

  3. Hey Jack! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. My mistake with the title, thanks for highlighting that! I shall rectify this soon!

    Michael :)