Simple yet Powerful

The Celebration (Festen) (1998) by Thomas Vinterberg

Other films by Thomas Vinterberg: The Biggest Heroes (1996),  Dear Wendy (2005),  Submarino (2010)


Directing: The shots were really unique and appropriate for the mood of the film. It is as if you are a spectator or a guest of the whole “celebration”.  The simultaneous cycle of events of the siblings made it a very interesting and exciting transition of scenes. Kind of introduces more a bit of their personality.

Plot: You get the starting feeling that it was Michael who was troubled. Then the suspense of the film builds up as we get deeper within the family’s dark secrets. The dialogues were casual and simple. But the confession/tribute given by Christian was far shocking and unexpected. It was interesting that the shots never focused on the expressions of the listeners, it is as if the movie was mainly focused on the main family alone. It may also be a realistic response from visitors in such an event compromised by their host. The father’s own monologue to Christian was almost equally shocking, but it does not give justice to the pain and horrible memories his actions have imprinted on his eldest son and Linda, his deceased daughter.  Her letter was very heart-warming and sad as well. It was fitting that their sister, Helene, was to read it before everyone.

Characters/Acting: The whole family did very well in my opinion. But I give my honest compliments to Michael, Christian, and Helene. They were all unique and convincing characters. Their roles were a bit troubled yet unexaggerated once you see them all mixed up with one another. Their own individual stories as well were very compelling.

Score: It was just right for the score to be absent as the seriousness of the film was focused on making it very realistic. The director gets the great credit of having to compromise the audience into pulling themselves into the “celebration”.

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