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Breaking the Waves (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (1996)

Emily Watson , Stellan Skarsgård , Lars von Trier  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge
  • Directors: Lars von Trier
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: April 15, 2014
  • Run Time: 159 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,428 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Selected-scene audio commentary featuring director Lars von Trier, editor Anders Refn, and location scout Anthony Dod Mantle
  • New interview with filmmaker and critic Stig Björkman
  • New interviews with actors Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgård
  • Interview from 2004 with actor Adrian Rawlins
  • Watson’s audition tape, with commentary by von Trier
  • Deleted and extended scenes, with commentary by von Trier
  • Deleted scene featuring the late actor Katrin Cartlidge
  • Cannes Film Festival promotional clip
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • One Blu-ray and two DVDs, with all content available in both formats
  • PLUS: An essay by critic David Sterritt

  • Editorial Reviews

    Lars von Trier (Antichrist) became an international sensation with this galvanizing realist fable about sex and spiritual transcendence. Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love) stuns, in an Oscar-nominated performance, as Bess, a simple, pious newlywed in a tiny Scottish village who gives herself up to a shocking form of martyrdom after her husband (Insomnia's Stellan Skarsg†rd) is paralyzed in an oil-rig accident. Breaking the Waves, both brazen and tender, profane and pure, is an examination of the expansiveness of faith and of its limits.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars We do not need bells in our church to worship God. September 25, 2004
    This is the story about love. Everyday we experience this breathtaking emotion with both inanimate objects and with other souls. It is when we finally find true love that nothing else in the world seems worthy or good. We work as hard as we can to continue this warmth that we feel in our hearts when true love exists, and sometimes that means going to a level we never thought imaginable.

    That is the central theme of Lars von Trier's epic, Breaking the Waves. Love has no boundaries as we watch Bess do everything possible (and more) to keep the relationship with her husband together during the roughest of times. Emily Watson controls the character Bess giving her best performance ever. The emotion and serenity that is felt, not only behind the character of Bess, but also behind Watson's eyes is phenomenal. It is not often that Hollywood is able to capture this sort of raw emotion, but Watson pulled it off with incredible talent.

    Outside of Watson's character, there is the story. Lars von Trier does a spectacular job of continually building on the foundation that he has begun. Watson is his foundation, and Trier builds this amazing world around her. In this film, everything from talking to God to reverberating stories to her husband while he is in the hospital only helps build the story to even higher heights. I will be honest; I shed tears at the end of this film. It will pull at every heart muscle that you have and really make you look at your significant other and truly feel the power of love.

    This is a love story, but not like one we have seen in a very long time. I don't think we will see anything similar to this again. It will be hard for Hollywood to emulate such raw talent, groundbreaking direction, and life-changing story.

    Thank you Lars von Trier for your imagination and passion for love.

    Grade: ***** out of *****
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    44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible, deeply moving experience February 11, 1999
    By A Customer
    Format:VHS Tape
    "Breaking the Waves" is one of the best films I've ever seen -- I have added it to my list of top ten best films ever (right up there with "Citizen Kane" and "The Piano"). It is not for the faint of heart, however, nor is it recommended for those who like their movie endings tied up neatly. The film has stayed with me and continues to raise questions about the nature of faith, the power of religion and community, and the meaning of love. Emily Watson's performance was pure and sincere -- she should have won an Oscar. The breaks between "chapters" filled with great music and breathtaking scenery were an inspired device to give the viewer a necessary breather, a moment to allow the previous scenes to sink in. This movie will stay with me for a very long time. If you liked "The Piano" or "The Rapture," then I strongly recommend "Breaking the Waves."
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    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars HEARTBREAKING March 26, 2001
    By EriKa
    Format:VHS Tape
    Lars von Trier is not known for conventional films. If anything his films court controversy and push the envelope on what is acceptable and appropriate in films. Some of his Danish works, which are less well known, like a strange film called Idioterne, are positively shocking. Breaking the Waves is more mainstream but by no means conventional. The story tells of a naïve and mentally unstable young woman named Bess MacNeil (played startlingly by Emily Watson). She has been reared in a very conservative and religious community (women are not allowed to speak in the church, people are judged harshly by the church, and they can easily be shunned for their activities. Outsiders are not easily welcomed into this community). Bess marries an oil rig worker named Jan (an excellent Stellan Skarsgard. He is an outsider to the community and is not easily accepted. The beginning of the film tells the tale of their marriage, Bess's exploration of sexuality with her new husband, Bess's childlike innocence and mental instability... and how she copes (or does not cope) with Jan's frequent absences. Eventually Jan succumbs to an accident on the oil rig and has to return home. He is hospitalised and is paralysed, and it is thought that he will be paralysed for life. He cannot bear to see his wife especially knowing that he cannot perform his husbandly duties, so he convinces her to go out and experiment sexually with as many men as she can. He convinces her that this helps him when really he is trying to do it for her. Not to add that he is doped up on pain medication. Soon the town learns of her activities and she is shunned from the society. The end is heartbreaking and the ironic twist at the end is painful. Lars von Trier cannot be faulted for his creative vision, despite what you make think of this film or his other films. Most of them are love them or hate them ventures, and Breaking the Waves is no exception.
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    29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars Not Uncut... October 10, 2005
    Sorry to disappoint customers here, but this version of the film is not uncut. It's actually cut even more than the Artisan release available in the U.S., which runs 159 minutes. This version runs 155 minutes. Several scenes are missing altogether.

    The reason why this is shortened is because of the strict censorship rules in South Korea. Why this DVD has been advertised as uncut here and on Ebay remains a mystery. The cuts don't necessarily hurt the story, but then again there are the staunch filmgoers (like me) who prefer to see the film the way a director intended it.

    It also kind of hurts that there are no English subtitles on this DVD, and it plays without sound. The audio track on your DVD player has to be changed to hear anything.

    At this point (and after more than a little research) I have to conclude that there is no way to get an uncut version of "Breaking The Waves" in the U.S. There are uncut versions available in Europe but they do not play on our DVD players. The release from Artisan, which is standard here, is pretty close. From what I've read, there is only a few seconds of nudity removed.

    So for us poor U.S. filmgoers, I think the bare-bones Artisan release is the only way to go. Maybe we'll get a real release, someday...
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get through it.
    I like his other movies but the format of this one killed the experience for me. The hand-held cameras, deliberate under-acting, TV-style editing, and lack of soundtrack made it... Read more
    Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
    5.0 out of 5 stars A directorial high-wire act
    Though it's a very heavy movie, I recommend seeing it more than once. I find this to be true of many Lars von Trier films - especially Dancer in the Dark and Dogville. Read more
    Published 16 days ago by Carl Kelsch
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Great movie well done by Criterion.
    Published 2 months ago by PJB
    5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, but excellent
    A powerful but disturbing film in which Emily Watson turns in a masterful performance. In an age where fundamentalism still rules for many in Christianity, Islam, and other faiths,... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Dr. Trout
    4.0 out of 5 stars and really liked Watson's acting
    I happened to catch this film several years ago on cable, and really liked Watson's acting. I've since seen her
    in other movies, but this, her first I believe, is a tour de... Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Paco
    4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful romantic drama
    There may be spoilers.

    This is another controversial film by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier who also co-wrote the screenplay. Read more
    Published 4 months ago by M. Oleson
    4.0 out of 5 stars What a rollicking theatrical experience, a true 90's gem lives on...
    The 90's did many thing to us. They bought us closer to long hair of the English renegades, to that feeling of Bittersweet Symphony playing in our earphones as we walk down the... Read more
    Published 4 months ago by Kanwar Anand
    5.0 out of 5 stars Lars and Criterion
    Get it. The old DVD's were a little hard to find. Here it is with all the bells and whistles. It's Great!
    Published 4 months ago by Ryan Ladell
    5.0 out of 5 stars Move Over Top 5!
    It's not unusual for me to watch 10 or more movies per week, especially now that I'm retired. Been a true film fanatic all my life, so friends will ask me what my top 5 or 10 or... Read more
    Published 6 months ago by JRH
    2.0 out of 5 stars Horrific
    Although fantastic acting...what a brutal, horrific, painful and unpleasant thing to watch from beginning to end. Just not my thing. Read more
    Published 6 months ago by buttercup
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