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Breaking the Waves [Import]
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When Bess, a naive young woman, marries Jan, a handsome oil-rig worker, she experiences passion and physical pleasure that she never imagined. Their bliss is cut short when an accident on the rig leaves Jan paralyzed. Believing he will never make love to Bess again, he tells her to take other lovers, convincing her that this will help his recovery. Bess is sent spiraling into a world of dark emotions she cannot understand
Set in an unmercifully rugged, coastal village in Scotland in the 1970s, this extraordinary film by Lars von Trier stars British actress Emily Watson as a barely contained naive named Bess, who holds regular conversations with God and whose pure and intensely personal faith is hardly tolerated by the gruesome Calvinist elders of her church. Bess marries an oil-rig worker (Stellan Skarsgard) and comes to believe that erotic discovery is a part of God's grand plan. But after her spouse is hurt in an accident, she decides that divine instruction is leading her toward the life of a prostitute--with disastrous but somehow beautiful results. Von Trier (The Kingdom) has made a wonderful, entirely unexpected, and rigorous work of discovery in this film, with a formal visual design that recalls classic films by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson. Watson is a phenomenon, her wide-eyed wonder at the world as God's handiwork a breathtaking portrayal of conviction. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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(Not that i am that much for Catholicism, but it does make for some fine stories).
Two minor points:
1): I know people might "blank it out" due to ingrained stereotypes ("Footlose" was a charming movie, but its theme mayhave become slightly, well, over - used?): Triers main villains are NOT the Presbytarians: he establishes their supiriority to id - driven types pretty early on in the movie (its the "liberated" types who end up killing the main character too, come to think of it).
2): no, the movie is not "misogynist": yes, she actually knows what shes doing. People do, sometimes: even women (though a lot of people seem not to think so).
In all my years as a cineaste and as a movie-goer, few films have affected me as profoundly as this film. Some of it is indeed 'disturbing' but only in the same sense that, say, the Gospels are disturbing.. telling us things we'd rather not hear and showing us images we'd rather not see... but things which make us wiser and more human. This film is about faith and love and hope, yes, but it is no feel-good movie of the week slop. It's a challenging film, which means that some may not enjoy it. As film critic Roger Ebert writes: "It has the kind of raw power, the kind of unshielded regard for the force of good and evil in the world, that we want to shy away from. It is easier sometimes to wrap ourselves in sentiment and pious platitudes."
It redefines our definition of sin and redemption and gives a vision of a righteous person that is probably more in line with what Jesus had in mind than any conservative church elders (like the ones in the film) are capable of conceptualizing. Rarely does a film come along that is as both spiritual and as morally complex as this one. It will alienate some viewers with it's frank sexuality, nudity, and it's devastating second act.
It's their loss.. and what a huge loss it is.Read more ›
One interesting thing that I read the other day regarded the use of the chapter headings in the movie. Von Trier called them rather offhandedly "God's point of view". Certainly, in light of that they become really relevant to the film. They are all gorgeous & shot on a normal film stock. If they're taken to be God's point of view, we can see all along that the events that take place are all part of God's plan. Furthermore, the scenes that aren't from God's POV are bleached out in color. this suggests only God can see the beauty in the world (and Bess' actions). Until I thought of them this way, they were mildly problematic for me. Of course until you see the whole film, there's no way to really come to this interpretation on your own, but it's food for thought.
If you haven't seen this film yet, stop reading and seek it out. It's best seen if you know little about it, as the film provides some of cinema's most transcendent moments, and those are best experienced without dilution.
This film is set in the Scottish Highlands. Film lovers the world over, hearing that, may immediately think of the rather fey, whisky-soaked and carefree landscape of "I Know Where I'm Going", "Whisky Galore", "Local Hero", etc. If you do, now is the time to forget these cosy images. The Highlands here are a cold, difficult place where small inward-looking communities are dominated by the ministers of a cold and unforgiving Presbyterian faith and where, out in the harbour, in the "big boat" there lurks a lawless and dangerous world of psychopathic sexual sadism. It's a bleak picture indeed though I doubt that von Trier intends it to be a particularly realistic picture of a Highland community.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Very gripping and persuasively acted. The girl's fervent conversations with herself, in which she plays the part of God, show the director's psychological insight. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2007 by Glen Koehn
Yes all devout Christians beware this film it may well shatter your illusions, throw another book on the pyre. Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2004 by craig barrow
This film does NOT endorse what it depicts. Obviously, the memebers of the church are misguided, in fact a great deal of the film points that out. Read morePublished on June 18 2004 by Nicholas F. Farina
I loved dancer in the dark. I found it to be one of the saddest, most beautiful films that i have ever seen. This led me to search out other films by Lars Von Treir. Read morePublished on June 11 2004
A long, slow study of life in a small northern Scottish town, ruled by the old men of the village's Calvinist kirk, as seen through the eyes of a village lass who appears to be... Read morePublished on April 28 2004 by J. A. Smith
Bess McNeil (Emily Watson) is a naive woman who was brought up in an oppressive environment with patriarchal Christian believes where Christian rules are worshipped above all else. Read morePublished on April 26 2004 by Swederunner
The subject of this daringly emotional movie is faith, and it demands to be taken on. Von Trier's blurb on the DVD has him suggesting that this was a simple love story, but it... Read morePublished on April 13 2004 by Nearly Nubile
My first experience with Lars Von Trier was Dancer in the Dark which was intentionaly lacking in production values and minimalist acting. Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2004 by Robin McDonald
this film is terrible. the camera movement is jerky and stuff. what up wit dat? yo, this movie is whack!
also, what's up wit da bells? man, I didn't understand dat at all. Read more
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