July 17, 2011

Must Watch Before You Die #16: Breaking the Waves (1996)

Lars von Trier is one of the most controversial filmmakers we have today. Infamous for creating trouble at Cannes every time he visits the festival, he also believes that he is the greatest director on the planet. I find his arrogance amusing, and perfectly in sync with his cinema. One of the founders of Dogme 95 movement (would discuss it later), von Trier is the compulsive rebel, and a genius at doing what he does.

I have watched only four of the fourteen feature films he has made till date (the last being ‘Melancholia’ (2011) that I’m eagerly awaiting). But that has been sufficient to make me understand the voice of this filmmaker. It is outrageous, and shocking, but most importantly, it is still profound. He is not one of those who indulge in sex and violence just for the sake of it, though the degree to which he goes is still open to debate. Even his most vehement critics would agree that he very well knows how to wrap his sensational content with relevant philosophical subtext. Even his extremely disturbing ‘Antichrist’ (2009) has so much to convey, as is evident by this wonderful essay on the movie.

But with ‘Breaking the Waves’ von Trier has created an everlasting masterpiece. Less disturbing than his other works, easier to watch despite its 150 minute running time, this film is one of the most profound expressions of love and faith on cinema. It is not even reasonable to start the discussion on its craft and performances, which might go on and on. Two things to mention, though: Martin Scorsese and Roger Ebert consider ‘Breaking the Waves’ as one of the ten best films of its decade. And the camerawork and editing of this movie has just given me the cinematic expression I was looking for one of my own works. Spending hours into its study is going to be a fulfilling exercise.

And for all you film buffs out there, ‘Breaking the Waves’ is my proud recommendation as a must watch. It is brutal, and harsh, and it is beautiful.

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