Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 23
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
Kinski November 23, 1991
Klaus Kinski dies

When it came time for his longtime collaborator, Werner Herzog, to make a movie about his relationship with the brilliant and mad actor Klaus Kinski, he titled it My Best Fiend

Read more »
November 23, 1995
Louis Malle dies

The great French film director Louis Malle passed away on this day in 1995 after a battle with lymphoma, leaving behind his wife, actress Candice Bergen, and their child together, Chloe Malle.

Read more »
November 23, 1990
Klaus Kinski Dies

Klaus Kinski, one of the most fearsome, intense and memorable stars of the cinema, fought his last battle 17 years ago this week. Born Nikolaus Karl Günther Nakszyński in 1926 in what is now Poland, Kinski will forever be best remembered as Werner Herzog's foe and frequent collaborator: together Herzog and Kinski made five films together, Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Woyzeck (1979), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), and Cobra Verde (1987). That they made so many is miraculous as Kinski was infamously belligerent and had a relationship with Herzog (fascinatingly chronicled in the documentary My Best Fiend) which was tense at best, and all out war at worst. Married three times, Kinski was the father of actress Nastassja Kinski and –– according to his sensationalist autobiography, Kinski: All I Need Is Love –– four other children. A year after completing Kinski Paganini (1989), a film Kinski wrote, directed and starred in about the Italian composer (with whom he supposedly felt a demonic kinship), Kinski succumbed to a heart attack at his home in Lagunitas, California, aged just 65.

Read more »