Breaking the Waves

Innocent Bess is willing to grant her paralyzed husband every wish… Lars von Trier's best-received film, made famous by Emily Watson.

Breaking the Waves
Denmark, Sweden, France, Netherlands 1996
  • Czech
159 min.

A story about the strength and power of love set in a remote village in northern Scotland in the 1970s. A deeply religious Protestant girl, young and naive Bess, marries John, a world-weary miner who works on an oil rig in the North Sea. Soon after the marriage, however, the man is injured in an explosion and becomes paralysed all over his body. Jan can't bear the thought of them never making love again and convinces Bess to sleep with other men. But her extramarital sexual dalliances have tragic consequences… The first part of Trier's „Golden Heart Trilogy,“ a mystical tale about the power of faith, the measure of self-sacrifice and the bond of love, won the Grand Prix at the 1996 Cannes IFF and made British actress Emily Watson famous, earning an Oscar nomination for her role as Bess.

Director: Lars von Trier
Screenplay: Lars von Trier, Peter Asmussen
Cinematography: Robby Müller
Editing: Anders Refn
Production Design: Karl Júlíusson
Producer: Vibeke Windeløv, Peter Aalbæk Jensen
Co-production: Axel Helgeland, Rob Langestraat, Marianne Slot, Peter van Vogelpoel
Cast: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge, Jean-Marc Barr, Adrian Rawlins, Udo Kier

Cannes Film Festival

1996 – Lars von Trier (Grand Prize of the Jury)

César Awards

1997 – Lars von Trier (Best Foreign Film)

European Film Awards

1996 – Lars von Trier (European Film of the Year)

European Film Awards

1996 – Emily Watson (European Actress of the Year)

European Film Awards

1996 – Lars von Trier (FIPRESCI Prize)

Danish Film Awards (Robert)

1997 – Lars von Trier (Best Film)

Danish Film Awards (Robert)

1997 – Emily Watson (Best Actress)

Danish Film Awards (Robert)

1997 – Katrin Cartlidge (Best Supporting Actress)

Danish Film Awards (Robert)

1997 – Robby Müller (Best Cinematography)