A look back at this day in film history
June 26
BreakingTheWaves October 4, 1995
Breaking the Waves opens

With his 1996 film, Breaking the Waves, Lars von Trier took a left turn from sumptuously shot earlier works like Europa, embracing a new, handheld, more visceral shooting style to tell the story of Bess, a wife of a paralyzed oil drilling worker who submits herself to a gang rape in a holy appeal for his recovery. Set in 1970s Scotland, the movie contained nudity, shocking sex scenes and a revelatory performance by Emily Watson, who projected an altruistic innocence with such conviction that the director’s various audience provocations were perfectly counterbalanced. Breaking the Waves, which played the New York Film Festival October 4, 1996, is a religious film for our times in that, whatever the motives of its director, it practically begs the audience to dismiss the wife’s divine convictions while her performance urges us otherwise. Wrote Roger Ebert in his review, “Not many movies like this get made, because not many filmmakers are so bold, angry and defiant. Like many truly spiritual films, it will offend the Pharisees. Here we have a story that forces us to take sides, to ask what really is right and wrong in a universe that seems harsh and indifferent. Is religious belief only a consolation for our inescapable destination in the grave? Or can faith give the power to triumph over death and evil? Bess knows.”

More Flashbacks
Jason Schwartzman June 26, 1980
Jason Schwartzman born

Currently the star of HBO's Bored to Death, a comedy based on Jonathan Ames' Gen-Y update of the hardboiled detective story, actor Jason Schwartzman was born June 26, 1980. From the beginning, Schwartzman was part of filmmaking royalty.

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June 26, 1969
Easy Rider opens

One of the most successful independent movies of all time — and one that truly qualifies as a zeitgiest film — opened on June 26, 1969: Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider.

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26 June 1904
Birth of a Screen Weasel

As a rule, the villains we take seriously are tall and assured, but Peter Lorre — born László Löwenstein in Austria-Hungary, this week in 1904 — was neither of the above and unforgettable for that exact reason.

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