Breaking the Waves (1996)

Love is a mighty power.

Original Title : Breaking the Waves
Director : Lars von Trier
Writer : Lars von Trier
Peter Asmussen
David Pirie
Genre : Drama
Country : Denmark
Language : English
Producer : Axel Helgeland , Peter Aalbæk Jensen , Lars Jönsson , Rob Langestraat , Marianne Slot , Vibeke Windeløv , Peter van Vogelpoel
Photography : Robby Müller
MPAA Rating : Rated R for strong graphic sexuality, nudity, language and some violence.
IMDB ID : 0115751
Official site :
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poster for "Breaking the Waves" by Lars von Trier (1996)
Breaking the Waves (1996) - Lars von Trier


Emily Watson Bess McNeill
Stellan Skarsgård Jan Nyman
Katrin Cartlidge Dodo McNeill
Jean-Marc Barr Terry
Adrian Rawlins Dr. Richardson
Jonathan Hackett Priest
Sandra Voe Mother
Udo Kier Sadistic Sailor
Mikkel Gaup Pits
Roef Ragas Pim
Phil McCall Grandfather
Robert Robertson Chairman
Desmond Reilly An Elder
Sarah Gudgeon Sybilla
Finlay Welsh Coroner (as Finley Welsh
David Gallacher Glasgow Doctor
Ray Jeffries Man on Bus
Owen Kavanagh Man at Lighthouse
Bob Docherty Man on Boat
David Bateson Young Sailor
Callum Cuthbertson Radio Operator
Gavin Mitchell Police Officer 1
Brian Smith Police Officer 2
Iain Agnew Praying Man 1
Charles Kearney Praying Man 2
Steven Leach Praying Man 3
Dorte Rømer Nurse
Anthony J. O'Donnell Boy 1 (as Anthony O'Donnell
John Wark Boy 2
Ronnie McKellaig Presenter
Peter Bensted Ugly Man (voice
Simon Towler Jorfaid Boy in Film (voice


Drama set in a repressed, deeply religious community in the north of Scotland, where a naive young woman named Bess McNeil (Emily Watson) meets and falls in love with Danish oil-rig worker Jan (Stellan Skarsgaard). 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 behaviour, the more she comes to believe that her actions are guided by God and are helping Jan recover.


Original -- but I object to things in it [Contains SPOILERS] "Breaking the Waves" is a very original film, both the story and how von Trier tells it. There's no denying that it is a very fascinating film, and a film you will definitely think about afterwards -- whether you like the film or not. I certainly like the *film*, but it really made me feel uneasy. What did von Trier want to say with this? I found Bess's submissiveness almost offensive -- especially the fact that she goes back to the boat where she knows she will be raped and tortured. And also the fact that after that Jan is able to walk again and God makes an appearance (or at least his bells) -- does that mean that we in the audience are supposed to believe that Bess's choices are the right ones? Or is it this von Trier wanted -- for me to feel utterly confused and somewhat disturbed? Well, like I said: his technique of telling the story is quite brilliant and the acting is absolutely sensational. I'm talking about Emily Watson in particular, but also about Stellan Skarsgård and Katrin Cartlidge. I like the film, even if the message is a mystery to me, but maybe that's what I like since "Breaking the Waves" certainly left me with something to think about and a whole lot to discuss with my friends.
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Breaking the Waves (1996) - Lars von Trier
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Breaking the Waves (1996) - Lars von Trier
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Breaking the Waves (1996) - Lars von Trier