Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
February 08
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
The Virgin Spring February 8, 1960
The Virgin Spring opens in Sweden

In Sweden on this day in 1960, audiences got to see Ingmar Bergman’s provocative religious parable The Virgin Spring for the first time.

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James Dean February 8, 1931
James Dean born

James Dean was born on February 8, 1931. The son of an Indiana dental technician, Dean’s first acting job was in a Pepsi commercial followed by bit parts on TV game shows and dramas.

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Planet of the Apes February 8, 1968
Planet of the Apes released

Planet of the Apes told the story of three astronauts who land on a planet populated by intelligent apes and where humans are considered the animals.

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