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The Celebration (1998)

Thomas Bo Larsen , Henning Moritzen , Thomas Vinterberg  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

List Price: $14.98
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Product Details

  • Actors: Thomas Bo Larsen, Henning Moritzen, Paprika Steen, Ulrich Thomsen, Birthe Neumann
  • Directors: Thomas Vinterberg
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Danish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00023P4N8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,537 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Celebration" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Editorial Reviews

    It's Helge Klingenfeldt's much-anticipated sixtieth birthday party, but no one is ready for the bombshell about to be delivered by his oldest son, Christian - a dark family secret that contributed to his twin sister's recent suicide. Helge Klingenfeldt (Henning Moritzen) is a respected Danish patriarch whose country estate is the scene of a grand celebration. Friends and relatives have arrived. The staff has prepared the most succulent foods to be served with the finest wines. Even Helge's squabbling adult children seem to be on their best behavior: free-spirited Helene (Paprika Steen), hot-blooded Michael (Thomas Bo Larsen), and sensitive Christian (Ulrich Thomsen) whose birthday toast turns the genteel celebration into a surprise party from hell.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, devastating potrait of a family May 30, 2002
    "The Celebration" was made under the rules of Dogma 95, a pact about how a movie is to be made. It was signed by several Danish filmmakers including Thomas Vintenberger, the director of "Celebration". The rules include using only hand held cameras, no artificial lighting, no props except those found on location. Dogma 95 is an attempt to get away from the artificiality of Hollywood-style movie making, but, in its own way, it's artificial itself because it works only with certain kinds of movies. "The Celebration", though, happens to fit perfectly into its rules. The hand held camera work, for example, only adds to the tension of this powerful and devastating film.
    A large family gathers to celebrate the 60th birthday of its patriarch. Among the celebrants are the man's grown children, a daughter and two sons. A fourth child, a twin of one son, recently killed herself in the family's country inn where the party takes place. One son, Michael [Thomas Bo Larson], is a loud and pushy guy who drinks a lot and is less than an understanding husband and father. Helene [Paprika Steen], the daughter, is an anthropologist who has traveled the world. We find out that she has good reason to distance herself from the family. Christian [Ulrich Thomson], the twin, is a man who has been in a mental institution more than once. For a time, the children try their best to put on a cheerful front. But there is a dark family secret which is about to come out. It will destroy the family.
    Despairing as it may be, this is one of the most riveting films I have seen in a long time. The acting is absolutely wonderful. The script is brilliant and brutally frank. Rarely have I seen a movie with so much insightful into the enormous complexities of relationships within a family.
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    13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Danish dysfunctionality August 28, 2004
    Format:DVD
    I hadn't seen any Dogme 95 films until quite recently. I did have a passing familiarity with the tenets of the group--which got a fair amount of press due to the emergence of Lars von Trier as a director of note--but hadn't actually gotten around to viewing any of the releases available in this country until just a few months ago.

    A lot of what I had read was pretty negative. Many reviewers found that the strictures under which Dogme 95 filmmakers operate were more limiting than liberating--and that even when the script and the acting were good, those strictures (particularly the grainy cinematography and lack of edits) often undermined the films' effectiveness.

    Since the first Dogme film I actually saw was ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS, I found myself in tentative agreement with the critics. That film, a comedy-drama, seemed to beg for better lighting, better sound and an overall more professional look. I remember thinking that the film's generally washed-out look made one actress's bright red hair look oddly artificial). It seemed oddly jarring that what was ultimately a bright, warmhearted film was presented so starkly.

    But I have to admit the experience had its effect. The next few films I watched I saw through somewhat different eyes. I became increasingly aware of the kind of tricks filmmakers employ--particularly in terms of cinematography. There are certain visual conventions in films, particularly in American films, that have become cliched and deserve to be challenged.

    It remained to be seen how effective the Dogme 95 approach might be in a more dramatic context. The very first entry in the series Thomas Vinterberg's CELEBRATION (am I even allowed to mention the director's name?) seemed promising on that score.
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    20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF 1998 November 20, 1999
    By A Customer
    Format:VHS Tape
    After I saw this brilliant film, I was totally blown away by it. (I was also blown away by the fact that the obtuse Academy Awards did not nominate it for Best Foreign Language Film. The Celebration was ten times better than Life is Beautiful.) I would compare The Celebration to another brilliant film of its time: The 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut. Both films make excellent use of their cameras, and deal with the theme of child abuse by the adults. The freeze frame shot of the twin son at the end of The Celebration reminded me of Antoine at the end of The 400 Blows. THERE SHOULD BE MORE FILMS LIKE THE CELEBRATION AND THE 400 BLOWS MADE AND RELEASED IN THE U.S.
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    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Superior example of Dogme 95 film May 21, 2004
    Format:DVD
    Thomas Vinterberg's Celebration is without question one of the best of the Danish Dogme (spelled this way in Denmark, not Dogma) 95 films.
    As the film opens, we see various people, in groups of two, three, and more, converge on a large house--walking, driving, and bicycling. They are gathering to celebrate the 60th birthday of the man who fathered four children--they who have now come to pay their respects with their wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends. The man has made a tidy sum thanks to his unnamed business, and he and his wife live quite comfortably. Also invited are the older couple's friends, and by the time everyone has arrived, there is a full house indeed, all seated at the host's large dinner table.
    Speeches are made, glasses are chinked together in toasts, food is eaten. The daughter has a black American boyfriend and it's a wicked foreshadowing that has him insulted by one of his girlfriend's brothers--an out and out racist remark.
    This sets the stage for a shocking turn of events when one of the man's sons stands and proposes a toast to his father that leaves the guests completely stunned. A dark secret is revealed that is so out of place with the reason for the "celebration", nothing can ever be the same following the younger man's toast.
    The drama here is powerful, intense, seething. One of the trademark strengths of Dogme 95 cinema, as many of us know by now, is its focus on story alone, without reliance on any special effects--CGI, lighting, or otherwise--and Vinterberg has here wisely chosen a story so strong that to "enhance" it with anything remotely resembling special effects would be doing it a major disservice--would be, in fact, blatantly stupid.
    This is one of the best Danish films of the 20th century and should absolutely not be missed.
    Very highly recommended.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    1.0 out of 5 stars wot wot WOT WOT wot
    this film is in an unENGLISH lingua. it makes it had 'hard' 2 to follow. a real lot of fighting. SCREAMING AND UPSET AND family gatHERINGS. I GUESS you have to be square but don
    Published 4 months ago by GCD
    1.0 out of 5 stars FORGET ABOUT IT!
    I can't even remember this darn movie but I do recall fast forwarding it again again again. FORGET ABOUT IT!
    Published 5 months ago by S. donaven
    4.0 out of 5 stars The Celebration is a Cause Celebre
    Truly, the only reason that I gave this picture 4 stars is that I don't like "reading" films, and since this is in Danish, I had to read it, which meant that I missed some... Read more
    Published 8 months ago by CoolGramma613
    5.0 out of 5 stars The Family Reunion from Hell
    The film is done in a "Dogme" style which means the quality suffers. However the storyline is deep and engaging. Read more
    Published 11 months ago by B.W. Harold
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good as far as it goes.
    Unpleasant content, but a very well made and engrossing film. Why must I write so many words? I ought to be paid for writing this review.
    Published 11 months ago by meh
    5.0 out of 5 stars Skewers every level of society
    Festen or The Celebration is first off about a subject you wouldn't expect to see made in Hollywood, for more than one reason. Read more
    Published 12 months ago by Silent river
    3.0 out of 5 stars A Bombshell
    Three siblings attend a family reunion of sorts at their father's upscale hotel where the oldest sister recently killed herself. Read more
    Published 16 months ago by mr. contrarian
    5.0 out of 5 stars Intense family drama
    Incredible characters, unflinching plot, deep friendships and hatreds, deep trauma. I enjoyed the buildup in tension - just when you think the suspense is going to subside for a... Read more
    Published 17 months ago by CC
    4.0 out of 5 stars Movie topic intense! Pirated Movie
    The quality of the movie I received from the company TheThree Mousekeeters was terrible and appeared to be pirated. Read more
    Published 17 months ago by Denise Demello
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films ever made
    Don't be misled by the soap-opera like visual of the sleeve, this movie is a slap in the face! Although the family secret revealed during the family reunion may seem sadly banal,... Read more
    Published on July 8, 2012 by NicFromBoulder
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