Bert Haanstra's THE MUIDER CIRCLE LIVES AGAIN is a beautifully made short documentary which presages the innovations of Ken Russell at the BBC decades later. Though the DVD states that Haanstra did not want these early efforts to circulate, fortunately it has been preserved.
Far from juvenalia, MUIDER masterfully educates the viewer about the circle of writers, artists and other cultural figures headquartered at an atmospheric castle around 1647. Thankfully the place survived bombings of WW II and we get to see much of it here.
Before Russell made waves in the '60s, beginning with ELGAR, by having actors portray historical figures in documentaries (as opposed to just fictional biopics with actors), Haanstra did the same in bringing to life some of the key figures, led by Pieter Hooft. A poem by Huygens is also deftly integrated into the narrative.
As with his other documentaries, Haanstra is wonderful at conjuring up suggestive imagery, here most notably via a breathtaking sequence showing the abstract patterns of light and shadow passing around one of the castle's public rooms -akin to the effect one sees at night when passing traffic outside the window creates patterns across the ceiling in our modern world.
A classical score by Janny van Wering playing the clavecimbel adds immeasurably to the film's success.
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