Blessed Broken Bodies: Exploring Redemption in Central Station and  Breaking the Waves

By Jeanette Solano


1. Questions raised include: What is redemption? From whom or what do we need to be redeemed? Who has the power to redeem? Might redemption be a dynamic process that involves both redeemer and the redeemed? Need we have an exterior redeemer figure at all?  What entrenched ideas do Christians hold regarding the necessity of bodily sacrifice? How might these postmodern films offer us both new theories of redemption and a critique of Christian understanding of redemption?

 2. Marcelo Coelho, "Arthur Omar mostra o lado oposto a "Central do Brasil," Folha de São Paulo, 08 de abril, 1998. To see Coelho's article and for a selection of Brazilian reviews go to: All translations from the Portuguese are my own.

3. Interview with Walter Salles accessed at

4. Reviews: see Barry Paris's review at:; Janet Maslin's NYT review at:; and finally Donna Bowman's "Faith and the Absent Savior in Central Station" in the Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 5, No.1, April 2001.

5. Interview with Walter Salles accessed at

6. Dogma 95 is a set of movie makers and their manifesto or set of principles. They are dedicated to producing unmanipulated cinema without artificial manipulation such as lighting, musical scores, false props or sets. Films are to be shot in sequence. Actors are also allowed to improvise. For more on Von Treir, see

7. These three reviews are mentioned in Linda Mercadante's interesting article "Bess the Christ Figure?: Tehological Interpretations of Breaking the Waves" The Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 5, No. 1 April 2001.

8. Bradley C. Hanson, "Christ's Work of Reconciliation", pp.155-182 in Introduction to Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997). My brief overview is indebted to Hanson.

9. The theme of self centeredness as Bess' chief sin comes up repeatedly throughout the film. In her second dialogue with God, for instance, God replies: "You are guilty of sinfulness Bess. You did not consider for one second how hard it must have been for him...You put your own feelings above everyone else's. I can't believe that you love him when you behave like that. Now you must promise to be a good girl then, Bess."

10. Linda Mercadante's seminary students heartily rejected any association between Christ and Bess, they did not recognize Christ and argued: "Jesus did not die on the cross because humans begged him to do it." See Mercadante's article above. Brent Plate argues that Bess's Christic act fails because it is not public.

11. She psychically knew, for example, that they had to shock Jan's heart during surgery, even after Dodo denies it.

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