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Breaking the Waves (1996)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  13 November 1996 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 41,776 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 221 user | 108 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

Oilman Jan is paralyzed in an accident. His wife, who prayed for his return, feels guilty; even more, when Jan urges her to have sex with another.

Director:

(as Lars Von Trier)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 47 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Terry
...
Dr. Richardson
Jonathan Hackett ...
Priest
Sandra Voe ...
Mother
...
Mikkel Gaup ...
Pits
...
Pim
Phil McCall ...
Grandfather
Robert Robertson ...
Chairman
Desmond Reilly ...
An Elder
Sarah Gudgeon ...
Sybilla
Finlay Welsh ...
Coroner (as Finley Welsh)
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Storyline

Drama set in a repressed, deeply religious community in the north of Scotland, where a naive young woman named Bess McNeil meets and falls in love with Danish oil-rig worker Jan. Bess and Jan are deeply in love but, when Jan returns to his rig, Bess prays to God that he returns for good. Jan does return, his neck broken in an accident aboard the rig. Because of his condition, Jan and Bess are now unable to enjoy a sexual relationship and Jan urges Bess to take another lover and tell him the details. As Bess becomes more and more deviant in her sexual behavior, the more she comes to believe that her actions are guided by God and are helping Jan recover. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

love | accident | sex | scotland | oil rig | See All (57) »

Taglines:

Love is a mighty power.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong graphic sexuality, nudity, language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Language:

Release Date:

13 November 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Contra viento y marea  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$110,741 (USA) (22 November 1996)

Gross:

$4,040,691 (USA) (2 May 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Helena Bonham Carter was originally cast in the role of Bess. One of the reasons she turned it down was because of the sex content, arguing she didn't feel comfortable enough with her body at that age. See more »

Goofs

(at around 7 mins) When Bess is in bed with her sister-in-law, the blanket is on, then off, Bess' shoulder. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Bess McNeill: His name is Jan.
The Minister: I do not know him.
Bess McNeill: [coyly] He's from the lake.
The Minister: You know we do not favor matrimony with outsiders.
An Elder: Can you even tell us what matrimony is?
Bess McNeill: It's when two people are joined in God.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Memo to the Academy (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Lies Bleeding
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Performed by Elton John
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
This film is not for the faint of heart or soul.
19 June 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Without a doubt, this is one of the most emotionally devastating films I've ever seen in my life. It seems to be a rumination on the true nature of goodness. Bess is a simple creature and her purity and innocence are delivered by Emily Watson in a heartbreaking performance that you will not soon forget. It is a crime that Watson didn't win Best Actress for this role, though I imagine that many voters were turned off by the disturbing subject matter of this film. I had a visceral reaction to the film in the form of serious physical and emotional discomfort. I had rented it, and actually had to stop it at several points and give myself some time to recover before continuing on. I'm not sure it's a film that I'd ever want to see a second time, but I believe it is a true work of art and am grateful to have seen it.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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