Home Arts & Ent. ‘Breaking the Waves’ Review: Scenic Beauty Paralleled With Psychological Trepidation

‘Breaking the Waves’ Review: Scenic Beauty Paralleled With Psychological Trepidation

Photo Courtesy of SLANT MAGAZINE


The cataclysmic shorelines of self-pity

Immortalizing a summation of oxymoronic concepts through the process of cinema is nothing shy of a preeminent feat. Altering the way individuals digest the contextual arc of generic art is why we appreciate the ambitious ventures of our seminal auteurs. Ringing in the new wave of film, over the past decade, has felt subtly more daunting as the months have progressed and the simple postulates, from which we’ve ascertained as cinema’s ideological outlooks, have all aligned to the constellations of modernization. In a prosperous sense, the dynamics of artistic and stylistic visionaries have mingled together with their subconscious perception of visual mesmerization to formulate the arthouse classification of the twenty-first century.

Lars von Trier, for one, appears, perpetually, as the prime auteur who’s initial techniques implemented upon his earliest visual chronicles of time, as a whole, to be possibly his most poignant. Each devastating plot, both contextually and thematically, provokes the reasoning beyond natural and humanistic interaction. And in 1996, von Trier coalesced the fragmentation of each singular facet within a psychologically potent tale to conceive, not only the impeccable artistry of “Breaking the Waves,” but the entire Danish “Dogme 95” movement. Amongst the long and winding tunnel of the Dogme manifesto, there is an atypical, concise splicing of the symbolic nature within both visual realism and illogical existentialism.

To put the ambiance in a blunt, less ponderous proportion, “Breaking the Waves” cements its outlandish, nucleic core as one of the most tonally cohesive cinematic works of art of the 1990s. And beyond its perplexing, thematic configuration, Lars von Trier submerges your cinematographic psyche into a world of discoursed emotional resonance. Moreover, spanning the expositional segment to the final frames of the denouement, “Breaking the Waves” cogitates on the concept of an immensely metaphysical depiction of female susceptibility.

And at the median of the patriarchic subtexts at which Lars von Trier augments the tension of his script lies one of the most devastating performances from an actress within a piece of dramatic artistry in Emily Watson as she endures the hardships and horror within the formidable life of Bess McNeil. Through generalized verbiage, Watson displays an emotionally vigorous representation of eloquent beauty while being confined through patriarchal philosophies.

Furthermore, certain compositions deriving from the captivating cinematography of Robby Müller consummate the imminent sentimentality within Bess McNeil’s character amplification. Frames including the camera positioning and maneuvering as Bess rides on the seaside swingset felt so vitally symbolic. McNeil’s motion on the swing is so ingeniously mimicked by the authentic movement of the camera as her positioning within the frame reveals face-value portraiture in which a women’s internal emotions sway back-and-forth through unceasingly and enigmatically cyclic instances.

In a marvelous visual appearance despite its glaringly raw tonal instincts, each individual frame of “Breaking the Waves” is encased within the cinematic, labyrinthine aura that is Robby Müller’s optical expertise as his profound impact engulfs Lars von Trier’s thematic outlining in a subdued, sepia tinge that makes way for a contextually hypnotizing aroma. And without a semblance of doubt, this unsaturated pigment that swallows the very indication of emotional normalcy alters the landscape of von Trier’s existential intentions.

As such, von Trier’s screenwriting and meticulous directorial oeuvre cultivate a harrowing pillar of chilling intentions. Additionally, the sheer magnitude of his stylistic symbolism only proliferates the powerful, premeditated ambiguity of each individual undertone. Tenuously slender concepts such as the absence of church bells leave a thought-provoking flavor on the taste buds of your very conscience as you try and claw through the thick cobwebs that von Trier’s hefty narrative has left on the brain; as well as the subjectively permissive character evolution that so desperately desires to crack through the shell of lucidity is precisely how Emily Watson’s transitional growth appears so extreme. And the intensity of each climactic confrontation simply feeds the everlasting flame that is the interior burgeoning of “Breaking the Waves.”

In the end, Lars von Trier finalizes his plot-based complexities and intricacies which eventually molds into an artistic vision amongst the most psychologically scaring and potent caliber. And from the panoramic complexion of each interluded sequence, while being complemented by the tonally mesmerizing sound of rock music, “Breaking the Waves” is an impeccable product of the avant-garde endeavors of some of the most devastating and calculatedly ambiguous works of cinema that solidified 1996 as a benchmark point for the growth of the surrealist outline.

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