Thomas Vinterberg is a Danish film director, writer, and producer. He is perhaps best known for his work on the Dogme 95 movement, a filmmaking style that emphasized realism and eschewed special effects and artificial lighting.
Vinterberg has directed a range of films, from small-scale dramas to larger international productions.
His films often explore themes of personal relationships, family dynamics, and societal issues. Some of his best-known works include “The Celebration” (1998), “The Hunt” (2012), and “Another Round” (2020), the latter of which won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
Best Thomas Vinterberg Films
In this article, we will explore the best films in Vinterberg’s oeuvre and examine what makes them unique and worth watching.
“The Celebration” (original title: “Festen”) is a Danish drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, released in 1998.
It is considered one of the founding films of the Dogme 95 movement, which was an avant-garde filmmaking movement that aimed to create more authentic, minimalist films by imposing a set of strict rules, such as using only handheld cameras and natural lighting.
The film is set at a family gathering to celebrate the 60th birthday of a wealthy patriarch, Helge, at his country estate.
During the party, his eldest son Christian (Ulrich Thomsen) decides to use his speech to reveal a dark family secret that has been kept hidden for years.
The revelation causes a rift in the family and sets off a series of events that expose other long-held secrets and lies.
The Celebration was critically acclaimed for its raw, intense portrayal of family dysfunction, and received numerous awards, including the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
It is widely regarded as a landmark in Danish cinema and a defining work of the Dogme 95 movement.
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2. It’s All About Love (2003)
“It’s All About Love” is a science fiction drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and released in 2003.
The film is set in a futuristic world where love has become a rare commodity, and follows the story of John (Joaquin Phoenix) and his wife Elena (Claire Danes), two former lovers who reunite after years of separation.
The film explores themes such as love, isolation, and the human condition in a world where technology has advanced to the point where people are able to live forever.
John and Elena’s relationship is put to the test as they navigate through a society that has lost touch with what it means to love, and where the line between reality and fiction becomes increasingly blurred.
“It’s All About Love” received mixed reviews upon its release, with some critics praising its ambition and unique vision, while others criticized its convoluted plot and slow pacing.
Despite its mixed reception, the film has developed a cult following over the years, with some viewers appreciating its unconventional approach to science fiction storytelling.
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“Dear Wendy” is a 2005 film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, with a screenplay by Lars von Trier. The film follows the story of a group of young people in a small, poverty-stricken American town who form a secret gun club, using old guns they have found or bought.
The leader of the group is a timid young man named Dick (played by Jamie Bell), who finds a sense of purpose and belonging through the club.
As the club gains popularity, tensions rise between its members and the town’s authority figures, leading to a violent confrontation that puts their lives at risk.
The film explores themes of identity, power, and violence, and raises questions about the use of guns in American society.
The film received mixed reviews upon its release, with some critics praising its bold approach to difficult subject matter, while others criticized its heavy-handed messaging and lack of nuance.
Nevertheless, “Dear Wendy” remains a thought-provoking film that encourages viewers to consider their own attitudes towards guns and violence.
“Submarino” is a 2010 Danish drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, based on the novel of the same name by Jonas T. Bengtsson.
The film follows the story of two brothers, Nick and his younger brother, who grew up in a dysfunctional family with an abusive alcoholic mother.
As adults, the two brothers are both struggling to cope with the trauma of their childhoods. Nick (played by Jakob Cedergren) is a heroin addict and ex-convict who is trying to turn his life around and reconnect with his estranged son.
His younger brother (played by Peter Plaugborg) is a single father who is unable to provide for his son and is haunted by his past.
As the brothers try to rebuild their lives, they must confront the painful memories of their childhood and the ongoing impact it has on their relationships and ability to function in society.
“Submarino” received critical acclaim for its gritty realism and powerful performances from its lead actors.
The film explores themes of trauma, addiction, and the struggle for redemption, and is a powerful exploration of the human condition.
“The Hunt” (original title: “Jagten”) is a Danish drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and released in 2012.
The film stars Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role and was critically acclaimed for its powerful performances, intense storytelling, and exploration of controversial themes.
The film tells the story of Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), a kindergarten teacher in a small Danish village, who is falsely accused of sexually abusing a young girl in his class.
Despite his protestations of innocence, the accusation spreads quickly, and the entire community turns against him, causing his life to unravel in a dramatic and devastating way.
The Hunt explores themes of innocence, guilt, and mob mentality, and is a gripping and thought-provoking exploration of the dangers of false accusations and the destructive power of rumors.
The film was very well received by critics and audiences alike, winning numerous awards including the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for Mads Mikkelsen’s powerful performance.
It is widely regarded as one of the best films of the decade, and a significant achievement in Danish cinema.
“Far from the Madding Crowd” is a 2015 British romantic drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and based on the 1874 novel of the same name by Thomas Hardy.
The film stars Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, a headstrong and independent young woman who inherits her uncle’s farm in rural England.
As Bathsheba navigates the challenges of running her farm and making her own way in a male-dominated society, she attracts the attention of three very different suitors:
the stoic and reliable shepherd Gabriel Oak (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), the wealthy and impetuous farmer William Boldwood (played by Michael Sheen), and the dashing and charismatic soldier Frank Troy (played by Tom Sturridge).
As the men vie for Bathsheba’s affections, she must make difficult choices about her future and the kind of life she wants to lead.
The film explores themes of love, independence, and the tension between tradition and modernity.
“Far from the Madding Crowd” received positive reviews for its strong performances, beautiful cinematography, and faithful adaptation of Hardy’s novel.
The film is a poignant and sweeping romance that captures the spirit of the English countryside and the complexities of human relationships.
7. The Commune (2016)
“The Commune” is a Danish drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and released in 2016. The film is set in the 1970s and follows the story of a group of friends who decide to form a commune in a large house in Copenhagen.
The film explores themes such as community, love, and the clash between personal and collective interests.
As the group settles into their new living arrangement, tensions arise as they try to balance their individual desires with the needs and expectations of the community.
The central conflict of the film revolves around the relationship between Erik and his wife Anna, who must navigate their feelings for each other amidst the challenges of communal living.
“The Commune” received positive reviews upon its release, with many praising Vinterberg’s direction and the performances of the cast, particularly that of lead actress Trine Dyrholm.
The film is known for its nuanced portrayal of the complexities of human relationships and the challenges of communal living, and is considered one of Vinterberg’s most mature and thought-provoking works.
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“The Command” (original title: “Kursk”) is a 2018 English-language Belgian drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg.
The film is based on the true story of the Russian submarine Kursk, which sank in the Barents Sea in 2000, and the rescue attempts that followed.
The film stars Matthias Schoenaerts as the captain of the Kursk, who struggles to keep his crew alive after an explosion cripples the submarine and leaves them stranded on the ocean floor.
Meanwhile, the families of the sailors and the Russian authorities desperately try to mount a rescue operation, despite the bureaucratic and political obstacles in their way.
“The Command” received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising the tense and emotional storytelling, while others criticized the film for taking liberties with the facts and simplifying complex events.
Nevertheless, the film was praised for the performances of its cast, especially Matthias Schoenaerts, and for its powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of the tragedy that unfolded.
“Another Round” is a 2020 Danish comedy-drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and starring Mads Mikkelsen.
The film follows a group of middle-aged high school teachers who embark on an experiment to maintain a constant level of alcohol in their blood, in order to see if it improves their personal and professional lives.
As the experiment progresses, the teachers experience both positive and negative effects of their alcohol consumption, and must confront the consequences of their actions on themselves and those around them.
The film explores themes of mid-life crisis, friendship, and the search for meaning and fulfillment in one’s life.
“Another Round” was widely acclaimed by critics and audiences, and won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
The film is praised for its nuanced performances, thought-provoking exploration of alcohol culture, and its commentary on the pressures of modern life.
It is a touching and often humorous portrait of the human condition, and a reflection on the importance of embracing life to the fullest.
3 Characteristics of Thomas Vinterberg Films
Emotional intensity: One of the most striking characteristics of Thomas Vinterberg’s films is the emotional intensity that he brings to his stories.
Whether it’s the heart-wrenching drama of “Submarino” or the tense, claustrophobic atmosphere of “The Hunt,” Vinterberg’s films often delve into the depths of human emotion, exploring themes such as grief, guilt, and desire with unflinching honesty.
Realism: Vinterberg’s films are often praised for their realistic portrayal of human relationships and the complexities of everyday life.
He has a particular talent for capturing the subtleties of human behavior, from the way people speak to each other to the way they move and interact with their surroundings.
This realism is often heightened by Vinterberg’s use of natural lighting and handheld camera work, which creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy in his films.
Social commentary: Many of Vinterberg’s films contain a strong social commentary, exploring issues such as class, gender, and power dynamics.
In “The Celebration,” for example, he exposes the hypocrisies and dark secrets of the wealthy elite, while in “The Commune,” he delves into the challenges of communal living and the clash between individual and collective interests.
Vinterberg’s films are often both deeply personal and highly political, reflecting his own values and concerns as a filmmaker.
3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Thomas Vinterberg Films
Powerful storytelling: Thomas Vinterberg is a master storyteller who creates emotionally resonant films that explore complex themes and issues.
His films often feature flawed, complex characters and tackle difficult subjects such as family dysfunction, false accusations, and grief. Vinterberg’s films are often intense and emotionally powerful, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.
Award-winning performances: Vinterberg is known for working with top-tier actors and getting award-winning performances out of them.
Many of his films have been recognized with prestigious awards, such as Mads Mikkelsen’s Best Actor win at the Cannes Film Festival for “The Hunt.” The performances in Vinterberg’s films are often praised for their depth, nuance, and realism.
Unique visual style: Vinterberg is also known for his unique visual style, which often emphasizes handheld camera work, natural lighting, and a minimalist aesthetic.
He was one of the founders of the Dogme 95 movement, which aimed to create more authentic and stripped-down films, and this philosophy can be seen in many of his works.
Vinterberg’s films are visually striking and help to create an immersive and authentic atmosphere that draws the viewer in.