Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 04
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
July 4, 1927
Neil Simon born

Born on Independence Day, Neil Simon would grow up to be one American’s quintessential comic playwright. 

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July 4, 1885
Louis Mayer born

Although he was born on the fourth of July, studio mogul Louis B. Mayer (née Lazar Meir) began his life in Minsk, Russia. By 1889, his family moved to New York, then Canada, then back to America.

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4 July 1896
Maxim Gorky, Film Reviewer

The Russian writer Maxim Gorky, whose radical politics and heartfelt coverage of the life of worker Russians drew comparisons with Zola, became on this day in 1896 one of the very first film reviewers.

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