The Dogma '95 film movement, started by a group of Danish filmmakers, is a short-list of 10 rules known as the "vow of chastity" -- a pledge to eschew action, sets, props, soundtracks, lighting, stable camerawork, genre conventions and directorial credit. Like many a radical movement, it is entirely reactionary in nature, rejecting all use of artifice (or, one could say, craft) in an attempt to purge cinema of Hollywood's excesses. As director Kristian Levring -- one of Dogma's founders, along with Lars von Trier ("Dancer in the Dark") -- explains in the promo notes for his film "The King Is Alive," "It's about getting back to the essence of story-making."

But as is abundantly clear from "The King Is Alive," as well as every other Dogma film so far ("The Idiots," "Julian Donkey-Boy" and "The Celebration"), story is one of the movement's weakest points. Dogma opts for maximum freedom and experimentation in the filmmaking process, which is a lot of fun for the people making the film, but often not as enjoyable to watch. Without a clear-headed vision to guide the improvisatory approach, the results can easily drift from the miraculous to the masturbatory.

Such is the case with "The King Is Alive," which -- like its Dogma brethren -- is art-wank supreme. With its well-hyped aesthetic posturing and oh-so-clever hypertextual use of Shakespeare's "King Lear," it would not be a stretch to label this "high concept" filmmaking, in that the ideas behind the film seem more important than the actual results.