Lars von Trier founded the Dogme 95 movement alongside Thomas Vinterberg in the 1990s as a stripped-down, chaste approach to filmmaking — chaste, at least, on visual terms, as there is never anything chaste about a movie from the director of “Breaking the Waves,” “Antichrist,” and “The House That Jack Built.”
But in reality, von Trier only actually made one movie that adhered to Dogme 95’s criteria: including all shooting done on location, no props or sets brought in, diegetic sound and natural light only, and no credits for the filmmaker. That film was 1998’s Danish comedy-drama “The Idiots,” which upon release at the Cannes Film Festival provoked a firestorm of fiercely divided reactions for its fictionalized treatment of disability. Now, independent film distributor and streaming platform MUBI will re-release the film, restored and uncut, on June 16 theatrically at the Metrograph before it hits streaming on July 7. Watch the trailer for the new restoration, an IndieWire exclusive, below.
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Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, “The Idiots” centers on a Danish commune whose members aim to disrupt bourgeois society by spontaneously feigning physical or mental disabilities in public — including a new recruit (Bodil Jørgensen) motivated by a secret sorrow. The film was censored upon release due to its graphic content, including a group sex scene onscreen.
Also starring Jens Albinus, Anne Louise Hassing, Troels Lyby, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Louise Mieritz, “The Idiots” played in competition at Cannes to jeers and walkouts, naturally, and was nominated for the Palme d’Or. Von Trier didn’t win the prize that year, but he would take it home in 2000 for “Dancer in the Dark.”
“The Idiots” is part of a rollout of von Trier restorations on MUBI, which is also the home to the latest season of his TV series “The Kingdom.” In April, MUBI premiered a restoration of Von Trier’s “Dogville,” whose stars Stellan Skarsgard and Chloe Sevigny spoke to IndieWire about the director’s idiosyncratic methods and the set’s raucous atmosphere. Von Trier recently said he was likely to scale back on filmmaking while dealing with his Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Watch the IndieWire-exclusive trailer for the re-release of “The Idiots” below.
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