Abstract from “Godard’s counter-cinema, Vivre sa Vie, and von Trier’s Dogville” essay by Toby Woollaston – 2011

In this essay I will examine how counter-cinema differs from orthodox cinema, and discuss the questions that they pose about art, artistic value, and their artifice used. In order to do this, I aim to define some clear differences between these two genres, and in doing so I will draw heavily on Peter Wollen’s article “Godard and Counter- Cinema”. In this article, Wollen outlines seven core values that are characteristic of orthodox-cinema and contrasts these with their counterparts to define what he calls “counter-cinema”. Wollen uses Goddard’s work as examples to illustrate counter-cinema, and here I will focus on Godard’s film Vivre sa Vie (1962). I will also illustrate Wollen’s framework through the more recent Dogville (2003) directed by Lars von Trier. The level to which Dogville adheres to Wollen’s model will show to what extent it can be labelled as an example of Godard’s counter-cinema legacy. My intention is to highlight that these two films fall within Wollen’s framework as fine examples of counter-cinema that display challenging questions about art and the condition of humanity through their artifice.

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