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Breaking the Waves (1996)

Emily Watson , Stellan Skarsgård , Lars von Trier  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)


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Breaking the Waves   $3.99 $14.99

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Product Details

  • Actors: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge, Jean-Marc Barr, Adrian Rawlins
  • Directors: Lars von Trier
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Artisan Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 25, 2000
  • Run Time: 159 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305899681
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,644 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Breaking the Waves" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 57 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
Format:DVD
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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41 of 45 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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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
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. Nonetheless, Bess gets the Church elders approval, after some hesitation, to marry an outsider. This outsider is Jan Nyman (Stellan Skarsgård), an oil rig worker on the North Sea. Bess and Jan are so much in love that Bess declares her love for Jan in the bathroom of their reception by saying "You can love me now!", which leads to Bess loosing her virginity. This is the beginning of her sexual transformation as her love expands for Jan and in appreciation she thanks God for the gift of love that he has given her. However, the honeymoon must come to an end as Jan must return to the oil rig to earn a living. On the oil rig Jan is seriously injured in an accident, which leads the audience into a relentlessly tragic story about faith, loss, and love.
Breaking the Waves is broken up in different chapters and in between the chapters von Tier uses scenic shots that are artistically enhanced. These shots cue the audience on the upcoming chapter as it deals with different issues around Bess and Jan's relationship. The film is shot in a Dogma 95 style that von Tier introduced to the public in 1995, which adds to the realism of the story. In addition, the cast performs brilliantly as they help paint the true vision of Lars von Tier in a brilliant cinematic experience that some will love and some will hate as the story forces the audience to choose a side.
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16 of 17 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Review of Blu-ray, not the excellent film
This has to be the most awful looking blu-ray I have ever seen. And I was especially disappointed because it came from Criterion, whose other blu-ray discs I have purchased looked... Read more
Published 3 days ago by ncmoviefan
5.0 out of 5 stars Danish Gothic, consummately executed
Von Trier misogynistic? Tell that to Emily Watson, Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Lauren Bacall, and on, and on – all masochistic... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Carter West
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 Stars for Emily Watson Performance
Emily Watson gives a performance so astonishing, so breathtaking, so overwhelming that it will arguably be rated as the greatest film performance ever recorded on celluloid in the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by SanFran JT
4.0 out of 5 stars breaking the waves by lars von trier
An oldie but a goodie.... Lars Trier himself said he just wanted to make a simple love story- and then snickered afterwards. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Tina M. Shelton
3.0 out of 5 stars a love story
i had heard about this film and wanted to check it out. i was not a bad story. you will have to see it for youself.
Published 11 months ago by G. ferguson
1.0 out of 5 stars Absurd Premise
The whole movie is based on an absurd premise: that there is such a thing as divine love in human beings. Read more
Published 20 months ago by G. K. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Defective pressing?
My DVD of "Breaking the Waves", purchased at the time of release from Amazon went bad approx 3 years after I bought it. Anyone else experience this? Read more
Published on November 20, 2011 by Ken Volok
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty cool movie!
I rather enjoyed this movie. It certainly looked and felt like it was filmed in the seventies. The clothing, the hairstyles, cars, and everything just zapped me back about 35... Read more
Published on April 11, 2011 by Matt D. Eckert
1.0 out of 5 stars A film without any redeeming characteristics
I saw this film at its first US showing at the Telluride film festival, and it is not an exaggeration to say that no film I have seen before, or since, has provoked such strong... Read more
Published on November 9, 2010 by William A. Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a prude...
...but I found this film to be nothing more than a pseudo-arthouse exercise in the seemingly ever-popular male preoccupation with depictions of the degradation of women. Read more
Published on September 29, 2010 by M. Elaine Wood
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