Lars von Trier’s cult film, Breaking the Waves, speaks about desire, unselfish love, faithfulness, the bigoted religiousness of a small community and about true faith in God through a series of remarkable performances, without becoming pathetic or kitsch.
A special point of interest of the production is the continuous transition between film and theatre, the camera in the wedding scene, the smaller improvisations, and the projector on the stage. Breaking the Waves is a production that is definitely worth seeing several times!
What makes this adaptation really glisten is not only the faithful replication of the original story and the excellent performances by the actors of the Hungarian Theatre, but especially the way the makers of the play have chosen to apply the rules of von Trier's famous Dogme 95 manifesto. Being a movement that pleads for a purification of the cinema, both from a thematic point of view and concerning the usage of diegetic music and of sets closer to reality, the implementers have built, behold, a theatrical product with the minimum of props, and a soundtrack which is mostly played live by the actors.
(the theatrical screenplay) proves to be in perfect harmony with the director’s intentions, with Tom Dugdale's wish that his performance be about pure love, true love, beyond disease, life and death. A love overcoming prejudices of any kind, obstacles regarding religion and mentalities, rules of a retrograde community. And, for the same performance to be of the same categorical simplicity. Without complications, without too many niches, without decorative excesses. The scenery, designed by Carmencita Brojboiu, is downright minimalist, being admirably suitable for the specifics of a studio performance. Two distinct spaces are provided, one for the main action of the play, and another for secondary action or observation, complemented by the details provided by the live video camera. Several chairs, a multi-purpose table, microphones with stands, where live music composed by the director himself is performed.
The boundaries between the self-ruling genres - film and theater - are not as sharp. For their production, the Cluj-Napoca company does not choose to replicate the film, it would be impossible. However, the story itself can indeed be told, and actors make it come alive. And the creators also find the thread, the aspect that makes this story of salvation important to them right here and right now: faith, the faith placed in the power of love is what they put on a pedestal.
Festival of Hungarian Theatres at Kisvárda, Hungary, 2016
Date of the opening: April 02, 2015
Simple, faithful Bess should love God above all else. But Bess dares to share her love with Jan, an outsider whom she passionately marries and begins a happy life with. When Jan suffers a devastating accident, Bess engages in a series of self-sacrifices that she believes have the power to save Jan’s life. Set in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, Lars von Trier’s 1996 cult film, Breaking the Waves, shocked the film world. Its stark landscapes and naked aesthetics offered no answers, only questions. Why do we turn our backs on the weakest? When does conformity become suffocation? And wouldn’t you say that faith is a feeling, not just a word?
There is no other film I can think of where the performances threaten so violently, so gracefully, to puncture the cinematic frame and become real.