A Well Done Adaptation of Knut Hamsun's "Mysteries"
I was happily surprised when I noticed this hard-to-find film at my local video store, since movies based on Knut Hamsun's novels are hard to come by here in the States. I'm also happy to say that this film did not disappoint. My wife and I both enjoyed it immensely.
Dutch is the original language of the film, and unfortunately they decided to dub it rather than add the less distracting subtitles. This does mar the film (when doesn't it?), but it stopped irritating me after 15 minutes or so, when I got used to it. Other than that, this movie has everything going for it. I hope that someday they will issue another version with subtitles.
Based on a novel of the Norwegian Nobel prize-winner, Knut Hamsun, this romantic psychological drama takes place during the last century and depicts a wealthy mysterious traveller, Johan Nagel (Hauer), who decides to make an extended stay in a small rural town. He becomes the immediate friend and protector of the town's much-abused midget (played wonderfully by David Rappaport), and is tormented by his feelings for two local women -- the beautiful yet spiteful and unattainable Dany Kielland (Sylvia Kristel) and the beautiful and innocent Martha Gude (Rita Tushingham). The movie was shot on location on the Isle of Man, and the picturesque natural scenery throughout adds greatly to the rich atmosphere of the film. (Nature is a prime element in Hamsun's novels.) As far as the sex goes, there are some suggestive scenes and nudity, but nothing too explicit. It's mostly left to the imagination, which is nice (quite unlike most Dutch films I've seen). The acting I thought was first-rate, and Rutger Hauer is well-cast as the unfathomable Johan Nagel. It was interesting to see Hauer in his younger days, before he crossed the Atlantic to follow his career in Hollywood.
American audiences may not take too well to this film, being that its style is very European. It reminded me of some of Ingmar Bergman's works or the recent "Breaking The Waves". However, those who have the capacity and patience to appreciate great art will be well rewarded.
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