Lars von Trier founded the Dogme 95 movement together with Thomas Vinterberg in the 1990s as an essential and chaste approach to cinema – chaste, at least, in visual terms, as there is never anything chaste about a film by the director of “Breaking the Waves”, “Antichrist” and “The House That Jack Built”.
But in reality, von Trier actually only made one film that adhered to the Dogme 95 criteria: including all filming done on location, no props or brought-in sets, only diegetic sound and natural light, and no director credit. That film was the 1998 Danish comedy-drama “The Idiots,” which upon its release at the Cannes Film Festival caused a firestorm of fiercely divided reactions for its fictionalized treatment of disability. Now, independent film distributor and streaming platform MUBI will release the film, restored and uncut, on June 16 in theaters before it hits streams on July 7. Watch the trailer for the new restoration, an IndieWire exclusive, below.
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 pain secret. The film was censored upon release due to its graphic content, including an on-screen group sex scene.
Also starring Jens Albinus, Anne Louise Hassing, Troels Lyby, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Louise Mieritz, “The Idiots” played in competition at Cannes amidst boos and strikes, of course, and was nominated for the Palme d’Or. Von Trier didn’t win the award that year, but would take it home in 2000 for “Dancer in the Dark.”
‘The Idiots’ is part of the launch of von Trier’s restorations on MUBI, which is also hosting the final 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 chatted with IndieWire about the director’s idiosyncratic methods and the boisterous atmosphere of the set. Von Trier recently said that he will likely scale back film production as he deals with his Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Watch IndieWire’s exclusive trailer for the re-release of ‘The Idiots’ below.