Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
August 20
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.”


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August 20, 1958
David O. Russell born

With the setbacks he’s had in recent years – namely his latest movie, Nailed, being in limbo due to financial issues, and the bad publicity he got following the leaking of videos showing his violent on-set spats with Lily Tomlin – it’s easy to forget that David O. Russell, born August 20, 1958, remains one of the foremost directors of American comedy.

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20 August 1942
Talk of the Nation

As newspapers were filled with patriotic headlines about the war abroad, Americans showed up in large numbers for the latest Cary Grant comedy Talk of The Town.

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