Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 31
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
JK Rowling July 31, 1965
J.K. Rowling born

In the age of the blockbuster, the video game, the text message, and the social network, one person, arguably, ensured that a new generation has experienced one old-fashioned cultural necessity: the delicious anticipation and immersive magic of reading a good book.

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July 31, 1992
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Released

Alan Ball’s True Blood may be the hit vampire TV series of the moment, but the recent upswing in undead popular entertainment can perhaps be traced back to the original feature film, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which opened July 31, 1992.

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31 July 1992
Boffo Buffy

On this day, a movie opened that would change to course of film history as we knew it — Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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