An Autopsy of the Soul

Lars Von Trier’s alternate worlds

by Dónal O’Brien

Sat by the side of his bed smiling plaintively, her husband lies paralyzed from the neck down. It’s his birthday, he softly declares; “I’m finished, Bess. Go take a lover without anyone noticing, but you can’t divorce me, they’ll never let you.” This is a scene from Lars von Trier’s first international sensation, Breaking the Waves (1996). It brought this uncharacteristic director to the world’s attention.