Dogma 95, the avant-garde filmmaking movement founded by the Danish director Lars von Trier and three of his fellow directors, was launched in 1995 at an elite cinema conference in Paris—when von Trier was called upon to speak about the future of film but instead showered the audience with pamphlets announcing the new movement and its manifesto. A refreshingly original critical commentary on the director and his practice, Playing the Waves is a paramount addition to one of new media’s most provocative genres: games and gaming. Playing the Waves cleverly puns on the title of one of von Trier’s most famous features and argues that Dogma 95, like much of the director’s low-budget realist productions, is a game that takes cinema beyond the traditional confines of film aesthetics and dramatic rules. Simons articulates the ways in which von Trier redefines the practice of filmmaking as a rule-bound activity, and stipulates the forms and structures of games von Trier brings to bear on his films, as well as the sobering lessons he draws from economic and evolutionary game theory. Much like the director’s films, this fascinating volume takes the traditional point of view of film theory and film aesthetics to the next level and demonstrates we have much to learn from the perspective of game studies and game theory.
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Jan Simons is associate professor of new media studies at the University of Amsterdam.
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