Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Confused: Breaking the Waves

It is confounding to feel touched by and be utterly disgusted with the same person. Perhaps so much innocence is bound to be abominable. It is also confusing to watch a movie which resounds with a surreal beauty and horrifies with its bleakness. The only thing which seemed to make any non-confusing sense was Bess' choice of a personal God over the horrors of some sadistic, un-ringing church.
I think I loved the movie, apart from being completely revolted by it.

6 comments:

Alok said...

yes, that's an understandable reaction. I felt the same too but if you think about it beyond the immediate emotional reaction it has lots of interesting and provocative things to say like for example the way it makes vivid the idea of "leap of faith"...the idea that God (or Love in this case) is above reason. If you try to justify your faith (or love) by logic and reasons then you are basically putting it below Reason. Kierkegaard wrote about this aspect of religious ethics in his Fear and Trembling. He used the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac in his book - basically God asked Abraham to murder his own son to prove his faith. When Jan asks her to degrade herself to prove her love, he is doing the same thing! She can't question it by logic because it involves a leap of faith... The film is deliberately perverse, ugly and even absurd because otherwise it would have become a straightforward sentimental picture. Even their love is so "Physical" and so sexual, it very nearly throws you off track. I can't forget what she says on those phone calls :)

He is also indebted to one other Dane - the film director Carl Dreyer. The "miracle" scene in the end is a homage to Dreyer's Ordet. the two films are very different in their tones and attitudes even when they are actually about the same subject. One is sincere and sympathetic and other is full of bitterness and mockery but both are ultimately mysterious and transcendental.

Madhuri said...

Yes, after the initial reaction subsided a bit, I was quite impressed with the movie, more for its vividness than anything else. It did justice to the idea, even though I myself do not subscribe to the "leap of faith". In fact, I thought the last scene about the miracle sort of spoiled the movie a bit for me.
Before that it was more about choosing a personal moral code, choosing a personal faith, in other words having a personal choice, which I strongly admired in Bess,specially in the face of a close-minded Calvinistic community.
I think it needs a very strong will to have such a faith, years of being trained towards rational thinking perhaps weakens the will.

Ubermensch said...

Hmm. Even before I opened the comment link, I was pretty sure that Alok would have taken the oppurtunity to bring in Fear and trembling, ;) which incidentally is the second favourite book of Trier, after guess what? Ulysses Hee hee.

I think the waves is one of my all time favourites, which only lost palm at cannes to another favourite, Secrets and lies ( what a year was 96 no?). Do not miss it if you havent watched it.

Emily watson is underrated. She needs to choose a major role and the academy award would be hers. I dont know much about her synecdoche role but might win her a nomination. Lets see. Not very hopeful though with the complicated neurotic kaufman directing, she needs someone like Leigh or Woody allen. But allen seems smitten by johansson whose father is a dane, the people who brought out the dogme,A tangential reco would be dogme's first - festen, which if you havent you ought to. Thus completes my six degress ;)

thisonething said...

Hi - I stumbled upon your blog by accident this morning, and I think I like it. Mind if I check back now and again?

Madhuri said...

Ulysses seems to be haunting me! I do want to read it and am currently trying your idea of reading it aloud once in a while - I am still going linear though! Perhaps I will soon return to you for more tips.
Emily Watson was exceptionally good. Many times she kept reminding me of Gelsomina in La Strada - the same pout and shining, wide eyes. I loved bith La Strada and Masina's performance as Gelsomina. As for Allen's fettish for Johansson, you can't blame him with her fan following. And she was rather good in Match Point.But going by this performance I would agree that Watson does deserve a good direction and an Oscar.

I have watched neither Secrets & Lies nor Festen - will try and find both. The never-ending want-to-do/watch/read/see list!

Ubermensch said...

I think Ulysses have to wait, it's too demanding of course. Start off with a guide if you wish. The new one by Harry blamires is good. The pain with ulysses is the secondary Literature. But it's worth it. Of course some dont agree. They can go and read Ian Mcewan or Rushdie.

Secrets and Lies is availabel in India, in art film circles. Pune may be? Pick up the Festen /celebration from down under during one of those Oz trips of yours where you can get region 1 and Region 5 for cheap, I paid a dear 80 quids for region 2 but I don
regret.

Agree with La strada Girl; the idea is both are tailor made for marginalised charecters. Watson was brilliant even in the minor role in red Dragon. Scarlett i superior actress of our days whose abilities are undermined by her beauty. Not that I am complaining.