Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 27
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
Johnny Guitar May 27, 1954
Johnny Guitar released

"Johnny Guitar is a phony Western, but not an ‘intellectual’ one," wrote the French filmmaker and critic François Truffaut about Nicholas Ray’s film, which opened May 27, 1954. "It is… a fairy tale, a hallucinatory Western…. Johnny Guitar is the Beauty and the Beast of Westerns, a Western dream."

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May 27, 1894
Dashiell Hammett born

Though Raymond Chandler overshadowed him ultimately, it was Dashiell Hammett - who was born today in 1894 - who pioneered the hardboiled detective novel as an art form. Unlike Chandler, Hammet never gravitated towards Hollywood to capitalize on the better pay that screenwriting work provided but nevertheless left his mark on the movies.

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