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Bach Movies: Bach's Life & Documentaries: Index by Title | Index by Year
Filmed Performances: Index by Work | Index by Main Performer
Bach's Music in Soundtracks: Index by Title | Index by Year
General: Index by Number | Discussions of Movies on Bach

Bach Movies



Breaking the Waves






Denmark / Sweden / France / Netherlands / Norway / Iceland


Film: May 1996 (France, (Cannes Film Festival - premiere); Oct 1996 (USA, New York Film Festival); Nov 1996 (USA)
DVD: Jul 2000
VHS: Jan 1998
Soundtrack: Nov 1996 (CD); Feb 2006 (CD)


Lars von Trier


Lars von Trier (writer); Peter Asmussen (co-writer); David Pirie (uncredited)


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)


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. (Jonathan Broxton &

Set in an unmercifully rugged, coastal village in Scotland in the 1970s, this extraordinary film by Lars von Trier stars British actress Emily Watson as a barely contained naive named Bess, who holds regular conversations with God and whose pure and intensely personal faith is hardly tolerated by the gruesome Calvinist elders of her church. Bess marries an oil-rig worker (Stellan Skarsgard) and comes to believe that erotic discovery is a part of God's grand plan. But after her spouse is hurt in an accident, she decides that divine instruction is leading her toward the life of a prostitute--with disastrous but somehow beautiful results. Von Trier (The Kingdom) has made a wonderful, entirely unexpected, and rigorous work of discovery in this film, with a formal visual design that recalls classic films by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson. Watson is a phenomenon, her wide-eyed wonder at the world as God's handiwork a breathtaking portrayal of conviction. (Tom Keogh,

The Danish director Lars von Trier tells the sad story of a devout Scottish girl (Emily Watson) who becomes a whore in order to save the life of her critically ill husband (Stellan SkarsgÅrd). She is, unmistakably, a female Christ figure, and, as von Trier follows her up the steep road to her carnal Calvary, he seems to be rediscovering some forgotten magic formula for art-house success: he gives the highbrow audience precisely what it wanted in the boom years of the fifties and early sixties-nudity plus theology. The erotic-metaphysical hokum would be somewhat easier to take if the picture displayed anything resembling a genuine religious impulse. But von Trier is no Bergman or Dreyer: he's just a peddler of cheap miracles, a wily postmodernist mountebank. Also with Katrin Cartlidge and Adrian Rawlins. (Terrence Rafferty, Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker)




159 min (Film, VHS) / 153 min (USA, director's cut) / 158 min (Argentina) / 152 min (DVD, VHS) / 158 min (DVD, Uncut)

J.S. Bach's Music:

Siciliano (Mvt. 2) from sonata for flute & keyboard No. 2 in E flat major, BWV 1031, arranged by Joachim Holbek
Christian Steenstrup (Trumpet); Carl-Ulrik Munch Andersen (Organ)


Film: Color (Eastmancolor), Dolby Digital
DVD: (Color, Letterboxed, NTSC) | (PAL, Region 2) | (Color, Import, NTSC, Widescreen, All Regions, Uncut) | (PAL, Anamorphic, Widescreen, All Regions)

# Run Time: 158.0 minutes)
VHS: (Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC) | (Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC) | (PAL) | (PAL, German)
Soundtrack: CD


Film: Argus Film Produktie; Canal+; CoBo Fonds; Det Danske Filminstitut; Eurimages; European Script Fund; Finnish Film Foundation; Icelandic Film (as Icelandic Film Corporation); La Sept Cinéma; Liberator Productions; Lucky Red; Media Investment Club; Memfis Film; Nederlands Fonds voor de Film; Nordisk Film- & TV-Fond; Northern Lights; Norwegian Film Institute; October Films; Philippe Bober; SVT Drama (Stockholm); Svenska Filminstitutet (SFI); TV1000 AB; Trust Film Svenska; VPRO Television; Villealfa Filmproduction Oy; Yleisradio (YLE); Zentropa Entertainments; Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF); arte
DVD: Artisan Entertainment; ArtHaus
VHS: Hallmark, ArtHaus
Soundtrack: Hollywood Records [CD]; EMI [CD]


Watch selections:

Buy movie at:

DVD: | [Region 2] | [Region 2] | [Region 2] | |
VHS: | | [PAL] | [PAL, German]
Soundtrack: [CD] | [CD]

Source/Links: IMDB
Contributor: Aryeh Oron (November 2007)

Bach Movies: Bach's Life & Documentaries: Index by Title | Index by Year
Filmed Performances: Index by Work | Index by Main Performer
Bach's Music in Soundtracks: Index by Title | Index by Year
General: Index by Number | Discussions of Movies on Bach


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Last update: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 09:59