Blu-ray Review: Criterion Assembles Great Package For Landmark ‘Breaking the Waves’

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

It’s hard to overstate the shock waves that Lars Von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves” made when it was released in 1996. It’s not as if LVT was a completely unknown commodity but this was a new level for the filmmaker in the way he both played with his form and embraced larger-than-life imagery. “Breaking the Waves” was both grounded in classic themes and felt like the coming-out party for Dogme, the movement founded by LVT that embraced natural filmmaking techniques like handheld cameras and sunlight. And yet it was also SO theatrical with its melodramatic undertones that felt like Shakespeare and the flourishes that would come to define Von Trier as one of our most interesting filmmakers. He is one of the few who can go from a natural, human-driven moment to something so precisely artistic and auteur-driven and make them feel like they belong in the same piece. If you haven’t seen “Breaking the Waves,” correct that oversight. If you’ve seen it, see it again. Blu-ray rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

And see it on Criterion. As they’ve done with so many great films lately, the transfer here is a stunner. The colors aren’t just brighter, the intimate, muted scenes feel like they have the rich depth of film not just digital remastering. And the special features are plentiful and fascinating, even if one wishes LVT would have participated more. With the comeback of “Nymphomaniac” this year, it feels like Von Trier is back in the spotlight again. Take the opportunity to revisit what is still arguably his best film.

Breaking the Waves was released on Blu-ray on April 15, 2014
Breaking the Waves was released on Blu-ray on April 15, 2014
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Lars von Trier became an international sensation with this galvanizing realist fable about sex and spiritual transcendence. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Emily Watson stuns as Bess, a simple, pious newlywed in a tiny Scottish village who gives herself up to a shocking form of martyrdom after her husband (Stellan Skarsgard) is paralyzed in an oil rig accident. Breaking The Waves, both brazen and tender, profane and pure, is an examination of the expansiveness of faith and of its limits.

Special Features:
o New 4K Digital Restoration, Supervised By Director Lars von Trier, With 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtrack On The Blu-Ray
o Selected-Scene Audio Commentary Featuring von Trier, Editor Anders Refn, And Location Scout Anthony Dod Mantle
o New Interview With Filmmaker And Critic Stig Bjorkman
o New Interviews With Actors Emily Watson And Stellan Skarsgard
o Interview From 2004 With Actor Adrian Rawlins
o Excerpts From Watson’s Audition Tape, With Commentary By Von Trier
o Deleted Scene Featuring The Late Actors Katrin Cartlidge
o Cannes Film Festival Promotional Clip
o Trailer
o A Booklet Featuring An Essay By Critic David Sterritt And An Excerpt From The 1999 Book Trier On von Trier

“Breaking the Waves” was released on Criterion Blu-ray on April 15, 2014. Contributor Brian Tallerico


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