In the early 1970s a naive girl, Bess, living in a small community on the northwest coast of Scotland, falls in love with oil rig worker and man-of-the-world Jan. Despite local opposition they marry. Jan returns to the rig, while Bess counts the days to his homecoming, sure that their love is made in heaven, especially as she is convinced that she can mentally communicate with God. When an accident renders Jan paralysed, he is worried that Bess will cut herself off from normal life. Realizing that he will be bedridden, he persuades her that she will aid his recovery by giving herself to other men.
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"The international success of "Breaking the Waves" is mainly due to its own outstanding qualities. You can't manufacture a hit if the film doesn't have it. This amazing love story deeply touched its audiences, thanks of course to Lars Von Trier's directing and Emily Watson's superb performance. The 1996 Cannes Festival was a major factor in the film's career. The press and the public were knocked out by it, and it became an event that everyone felt strongly about - they either adored it or slammed it. The buzz saw to it that the film was sold worldwide, and with support from Media 2 we were able to help all the European distributors (paying for prints, etc.). The movie has made 600,000 admissions in France."
(Régine Vial - Les Films du Losange)