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The Celebration (Festen) (1998)



Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 20,014

My Rating

Movie Info

This Danish comedy drama won the Jury Prize at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. It opens in rural Denmark as family members assemble for the 60th birthday celebration of patriarch Helge (Henning Moritzen). At the family estate are Helge's children: France-based restaurateur Christian (Ulrich Thomsen), whose twin sister killed herself; surviving sister Helene (Paprika Steen); and younger brother Michael (Thomas Bo Larsen), married with three children. At the birthday dinner, the bitter Christian

Apr 12, 2005

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All Critics (59) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (3) | DVD (5)

The Celebration is founded on a cheeky display of cinephilic self-promotion.

August 21, 2009 Full Review Source: City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

gripping and devastatingly powerful

April 21, 2008
Shadows on the Wall

Best of the 'Dogme' fims, which isn't saying much, but there you go.

October 1, 2004
New Times

Extraordinary...It is a celebration, not of a sham birthday party, but of the transformative power of truth.

August 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

A major triumph for the Dogme group, and a success from any point of view.

March 9, 2004
F5 (Wichita, KS)

Pungent family drama, but thuddingly self-serious and wildly overpraised.

August 15, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

It's a fine line to walk, that between comedy and misery, but Vinterberg handles the balancing act magnificently.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Watching the picture, it felt more like a cerebral experience, than a normal film.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The Celebration is among one of the finest films ever made.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Draws the viewer in with its immediacy, emotional rawness, and elements of surprise, shock and suspense.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

showcases excellent acting, a great screenplay, and new innovative cinematography that is exciting and exhausting at the same time

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card
Hollywood Report Card

Vinterberg, while successfully holding his viewer's attention and moving his tale along with dispatch, doesn't here justify the unpleasantness with fresh insight.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

This is a Dogma-95 styled film, where the Danish filmmaker's group manifesto determines the rules for how the film is to be made.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Celebration (Festen)

The first film of the Dogme 95 movement is this riveting - and remarkably well put together - amalgam of hilarious farce and devastating family drama, where the dirty laundry is washed in an extremely revealing criticism of a burgeoisie trying to maintain its status quo.
January 11, 2014

Super Reviewer

Simple, stripped-down film by Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg, made under the Dogme 95 manifesto which, among other things, promotes shooting with a handheld camera while restricting the use of artificial lighting. The realistic, almost home-video style and look of the film makes it feel natural, organic, unrehearsed. Having seen a stage adaptation a few years ago, the film's main revelation did not come as a shock to me, but it wasn't any less devastating, thanks in great part to Ulrich Thomsen's work, a restrained performance that stands out even more when compared to some of his costars' overacting.
December 20, 2011
A great story which was confusing at times. I'm not sure about some of what happened as it was in a different language and it's hard to read the scene whilst reading the subtitles and sarcasm doesn't always come across in writing. Well worth watching though.
January 31, 2011

Super Reviewer

A fantastic film, marking the beginning of the Dogme 95 movement. Shame it broke so many of the rules! I'm a big fan of Dogme but for my money only one film can actually truly call itself pure Dogme and that is The Idiots. Vinterberg will always be in Von Triers shadows though I feel. All that aside, this is a dark and disturbing joy of a film.
October 1, 2009

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Das Fest (DE)
  • The Celebration (UK)
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