Breaking the waves

Breaking the waves

A film by Lars von Trier with Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgard.

Denmark/ France 1996

The story takes place in a small village in Scotland in the 70ies. The inhabitants of the village are very religious and conservative, this is the reason why they did not agree with the marriage of Bess and the foreigner Jan.

But nevertheless they marry and experience a period of fun, action and - especially important for both - Sex.

Bess gets more and more dependent on her husband and when he returns to his workplace, on oil rig, she collapses hysterically.

She prays to God to send him back by asking questions and answering them by herself. Some days later there is an accident and Jan comes back paralysed.

Jan tells her, that both of them can only survive through their love, which she has to practise physically with other men. She has great problems with his will but in the end she obeys him.

The people treat her like an outsider, she is raped and dies of the consequences. Jan gets healthy and throws her corpse into the sea.

The film is made by the technique of DOGMA 95, therefore the camera is always hand-held, no artificial light is added and music is only played directly at the shooting place. The movie is divided in 9 parts: a prologue, 7 chapters and an epilogue. Each chapter is titled and there is always a certain piece of music played, that prepares you for what you will see. These breaks give you the time to think about everything, which you really need to understand all the little but important details.

The technique underlines the plot of the film. The dark pictures produce a gloomy atmosphere that fits perfectly because on that way the story even seems more dramatic. Sometimes you have the feeling that Bess and Jan's relationship is only based on Sex, but this can't be true, because they, both do really sacrify much for their love. The pure sexual act they could have with anyone.

The timid Jan does not express his feelings as Bess does, but in fact both of them are dependent on their love. Although the film sometimes seemed a bit unprofessional, because of the DOGMA 95- technique, it was very impressing. The actors were very convincing, in particular Emily Watson. She shows the schizophrenic Bess in a way that makes you feeling the great conflict, that she is facing.

It's a hard task to recognise the message of the film, but this makes it even more attractive, because you are invited to think. The over-length of the movie shows the viscous changes in tradition. In fact, this is one of the maintopics, besides the different forms of love are shown. The conflict between the generations - especially on the topics of religion and sex - are treated carefully too. The conservative inhabitants of the village only accept their view of God. And then there is this young woman who breaks through. - Therefore the title: "Breaking the waves".

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