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The Celebration (1998)

Festen (original title)
R | | Drama | 19 June 1998 (Denmark)
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At Helge's 60th birthday party, some unpleasant family truths are revealed.

Director:

Thomas Vinterberg (uncredited)

Writers:

Thomas Vinterberg (screenplay), Mogens Rukov (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 28 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ulrich Thomsen ... Christian
Henning Moritzen ... Faderen - Helge
Thomas Bo Larsen ... Michael
Paprika Steen ... Helene
Birthe Neumann Birthe Neumann ... Moderen - Else
Trine Dyrholm ... Pia
Helle Dolleris Helle Dolleris ... Mette
Therese Glahn Therese Glahn ... Michelle
Klaus Bondam Klaus Bondam ... Toastmasteren - Master of Ceremonies
Bjarne Henriksen Bjarne Henriksen ... Kokken - Kim
Gbatokai Dakinah Gbatokai Dakinah ... Gbatokai
Lasse Lunderskov Lasse Lunderskov ... Onklen - Uncle
Lars Brygmann ... Receptionisten - Receptionist
Lene Laub Oksen Lene Laub Oksen ... Søsteren - Sister
Linda Laursen Linda Laursen ... Birthe
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Storyline

The Father turns 60. His family, which is a big one of the kind, gathers to celebrate him on a castle. Everybody likes and respects the father deeply...or do they? The youngest son is trying to live up to the father's expectations. He is running a grill-bar in a dirty part of Copenhagen. The oldest son runs a restaurant in France, while the sister is a anthropologist. The older sister has recently committed suicide and the father asks the oldest son to say a few words about her, because he is afraid he will break into tears if he does it himself. The oldest son agrees without argument. Actually he has already written two speeches. A yellow and a green one. By the table, he asks the father to pick a speech. The father chooses green. The oldest son announces that this is the Speech of Truth. Everybody laughs, except for the father who gets a nervous look on his face. For he knows that the oldest son is about to reveal the secret of why the oldest sister killed herself. Written by Jonas L.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Every family has a secret. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content and language, including references to sexual abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Denmark | Sweden

Language:

Danish | German | English

Release Date:

19 June 1998 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

The Celebration See more »

Filming Locations:

Sjælland, Denmark See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,621, 11 October 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,647,780, 21 February 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

On 23 November 2002 Danish Radio found 'Allan' again. Allan met with director Thomas Vinterberg. During the interview it was revealed that Allan's entire story was pure fantasy. However, Allan had adopted the story from a true life experience of a Danish nurse. She held her speech on Christmas eve. See more »

Goofs

As the guests dance through the house, a boom mic can clearly be seen in the bottom left corner of the screen as they enter one of the rooms. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[subtitled version]
Christian Klingenfeldt: [on his cellphone] Christian speaking... Hi, I'm here now. I landed this morning. What? Er... Washed? I shaved at the airport if you must know. I shaved at the airport if you must know! I'm fine... right now I'm looking across the fields. At the land of my father. It's beautiful. It makes me want to move back for good, but that'd be problematical. I'll make it. Yes, I suppose it will be... shocking. What?... You're dropping out. O.K. Bye.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bag om filmen 'Festen' (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Brudevalsen
By Niels W. Gade
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The changing power of truth
29 November 2012 | by Patryk CzekajSee all my reviews

The Celebration, Thomas Vinterberg's most astounding creation to date, is as realistic as it is confusing. Ironically, it's sometimes relatively easy to mistake a deeply dramatic scene for a comedic one. This is a sharp and somehow disturbing tragicomedy that reveals the transformative power of truth, showing how a seemingly ordinary birthday party can change into an acute contest filled with accusations and revelations. After a rough and intense night no one is left unharmed, and the characters subconsciously know that even before they start to delve into the past.

A cultivated and wealthy patriarch Helge (Henning Moritzen) is having a huge, luxurious 60th birthday party, and the whole family is invited. In the group there are three of his children: Michael (Thomas Bo Larsen), a chronic and irascible boozer, Helene (Paprika Steen), an anxious and depressed anthropologist, and Christian (Henning Moritzen), a withdrawn and angry restaurateur, whose twin sister recently committed suicide, among other guests. Before the party even starts, the intimacy of the main characters is exposed, as they plunge deeper into the state of irrepressible existential angst with their peculiar pre-party 'preparations'. When the family gathers for a sit-down with the man of the night, a huge feasts begins and toasts are about to be made. As of then, nobody even expects that Christian is about the make a shocking Speech of Truth, one that will change the course of the whole evening, destroy the relations between the relatives, and ultimately cause a hell of a farce. By accusing his father of sexual abuse when he and his loving sister were little (additionally pointing out that his father is the true killer behind the sister's suicide), Christian only encourages others to expose their true feelings. What began as a celebration of one happy man's birthday turned into a violent, alcohol and hate-filled showcase of the most shocking kind. The gradual loss of innocence (though it's all right to assume that such a disturbing even took place before) is properly 'enriched' with a Dutch racist song, a few fights, a few bottles of wine, and a late-night dance that is supposed to smooth the whole repugnant situation. It's only surprising to observe as all the relatives eat breakfast the next morning in the exact same place, looking into each other's eyes without any apparent regret.

Indisputably, The Celebration is Vinterberg's visionary approach to a family-in-shambles. As in every other Dogme 95 picture, the realism of the whole story is enhanced through on-location shooting, natural sounds, hand-held cameras, and no additional effects whatsoever. Even though it's hard no to laugh at times, the devastating power of this film is as harrowing as the main characters are cold-blooded and self-contained.


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