Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 24
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
Seijun Suzuki May 24, 1923
Seijun Suzuki born

The first name in hyper-cool fusions of Japanese B-movie aesthetics and art film psychodrama celebrates a birthday today.

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May 24, 2006
An Inconvenient Truth opens

F. Scott Fitzgerald's dictum, "There are no second acts in American lives," does not apply to former Vice President Al Gore, who premiered his climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Truth on May 24, 2006. Opening to an unheard of $91,000 per screen average, the film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, went on to gross almost $50 million worldwide and win the Best Documentary Feature Oscar in 2007.

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