Archive for March 14th, 2012

© 2012 by James Clark

Over the past couple of decades the films of Lars von Trier have been submitted to what could be called a choppy reception. There have been traces of rather puzzled recognition that unusual lengths have been gone to, for the sake of an unusual vision. There have also been more noticeable stinging rebukes toward apparently health-endangering indulgences. Both angles on this work seem to beg the question of whether standoffish short shrift is enough. The complication and intensity there seem to put commentators in the mood for cherishing safe havens, as would those driving by some gruesome accident along the road. This matter bears some affinity to the Church Elder in the film at issue, chastising the protagonist by rhetorically asking her, “Can you tell me anything of real value that the outsiders have brought with them?” Wedded, as he was, to medieval sensibility, he does not immediately impress one that his dismissiveness has powerful merit. Pat and cavalier assault seems awkward to an extreme, in view of narratives suffusing the viewer with logical challenges extending all the way to quantum electrodynamics, as hard-wired into the title as to creatively disturbing (“breaking”) overtures, possibilities (probability “waves”), to an upshot of heightened dynamical power.

As in the films of David Lynch, which entail their own endeavor with quantum energy, Breaking the Waves (1996) presents agitations in the foreground so abnormal that a slack engagement readily infers the writer/director to be, if not criminally insane, unproductively disturbed. The film appears to such a viewer to be a celebration of decadence sustained by dregs of society, replete with savaging of religious, scientific and humanitarian esprit de corps. Let’s, for a change, though, approach it with some concentration. (more…)

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