In the outskirts of Scotland, Bess, a religious young woman, falls in love with and marries a handsome oil rig worker. Soon, an unfortunate work accident cripples him for life, which shatters Bess’s world completely, especially when he encourages her to take on other lovers.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
this didn't really strike me so much until it's second half but i did end up really enjoying it. that final shot did leave a bitter taste in my mouth but i'm sure that's what von trier probably wanted.
I really liked this film a lot, and recommended it to my sister. She made the mistake of renting it and showing it at a party. By the end of the movie her friends thought there was something very wrong with me. It's just that I'm in the target audience for most of his movies. I get what he's doing even if it's not always successful. This is not a party movie.
thematically, it is von trier's take on dreyer's ordet. in my opinion the last shot takes away some of the magic of the film - the sound work on the previous shot is way more mysterious and transcendental.
After watching Kieślowski's Decalogue XIX, many years later after this, now Trier's film feels like a version of the Decalogue film. Maybe Trier wanted to show what the willingness to comply with the husband's wish "find a lover" would truly lead to, if it meant sacrifice. In Kieślowski's there is no sacrifice. The marriage is kept because the wife lies (she knows he truly does not wish her to comply, he is jealous).
Poor Bess McNeill. Emily Watson was a perfect cast and she made a character that could have seemed totally weird really believable and interesting. Seeing her innocence, hopes and dreams being completely crushed by Jan and the oppressing community was so sad. The conversations she had with herself (or God) were brilliant and so was the last scene, with the bells in the sky. Nice landscapes from Scotland as well.
For the first time in his career, Von Trier lays off the Tarkovsky-influenced pretensions and decides to learn from someone whom he understands on a much deeper level: Carl Theodor Dreyer. This harrowing, ultimately beautiful portrait of a saint qualifies with justice as his first masteripece.
the constant jump cuts, my desire to know more about the relationship between Jan and Bess, the intertitles with pop songs, and the ending (I wanted it to end with the sea and farewell. I felt the ending used was a bit kitsch)
bothered me but still, I found the film fascinating.
emily watson was utterly phenomenal and her character is so tragic yet almost admirable in her devotion and her raw kindness