The second movie version, now in color, of Flemish (heimat-)author Ernest Claes' classical novel, titled after the nickname (Dutch 'the White', referring to a blond male) of the main ... See full summary »
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Antje de Boeck
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Urs Peter Halter
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Robbe De Hert
Babette van Veen,
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The first movie version, from the age of black&white, of Flemish (heimat-)author Ernest Claes' classical novel, titled after the nickname (Dutch 'the White', referring to a blond male) of ... See full summary »
The second movie version, now in color, of Flemish (heimat-)author Ernest Claes' classical novel, titled after the nickname (Dutch 'the White', referring to a blond male) of the main character. The smart but naughty farmhands son's eternal mischief, pranks and disobedience drive his elders (especially teachers, family and father's grumpy employer, a rich farmer, but also neighbors and even the kind curate whose liturgical server he is) and classmates to despair in a time when a boy's punishment was still inevitable, swift and often severe; thus when his mother catches him skinny dipping she takes all his clothes home, forcing him to a long walk of shame, dreading dad's wrath all the way. This version also stresses the story's social and Flamingant aspects. Written by
For me personally this movie is already interesting to watch just because it is situated and filmed in my own region. I liked the fact that for once I didn't watch a Belgian movie situated in some major city like Brussels or Antwerp, but one that was shot here, on the countryside, in some small towns and villages only a couple of kilometers from my own door. I easily recognized many 'points-of-interest' like the Basilica in Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, the old beguinage in Diest, the abbey in Averbode,... and that certainly gave this movie an extra touch for me.
In 1903, Louis or 'De Witte' as he is called by everyone, is a 12-year old kid who is always up to mischief and who always finds himself into trouble at home, in church, at school,... because of that behavior. He's the son of poor parents and will have to leave school in a couple of weeks time, so he can help them with work on the farm of a rich farmer who almost uses them as his personal slaves. Their lives consist of nothing more but hard labor and going to church, where they get to hear that once they are dead God will make no difference in rank or gender, but that until then they will have to accept everything the Church and their boss tells them. But socialism is getting more and more popular and several of the laborers start to have doubts about the way their lives are controlled by others. But De Witte doesn't care about all that. All he wants is reading about our ancient history and re-enacting it with his friends...
"De Witte" is one of those movies that every Dutch speaking person over here has probably seen at least once. I saw the original version in black and white from 1934 once and this version a couple of times. Even though I like this version, I must say that I liked that original version better (although it is already too long ago to remember it very well). The reason for that is that this movie had a couple of things that really bothered me a lot. Take for instance the language. They all speak Dutch in this movie, but all with dialects. That wouldn't have been a problem if all the actors spoke the same dialect, the one from this region, and if they had used subtitles for the people that wouldn't understand it. But no, they used dialects from all over the country, making it an unrealistic and unbelievable mix of languages. Those who aren't from the Dutch speaking part of Belgium will not even notice it, but I really didn't like it all that much. What I also didn't like was the ending of the movie. During the entire movie you get the idea that you are watching an historical drama and then it suddenly ends at the present time. I really wonder why that was necessary...
But not everything about this movie was bad of course. The acting for instance was OK. Eric Clerckx was interesting as De Witte, Luc Philips was nice in what might well have been his most famous role as Pastoor Munte and the other actors did a nice job too, including the many 'famous' people who got some small roles in this movie. I'm sure that every person who isn't from the North of Belgium, doesn't recognize them, but they were added to this movie to draw a larger crowd and they didn't do too bad. Also good was the biggest part of the story (except for the ending of course). It all felt realistic and gives a good idea of how life at the beginning of the twentieth century was like over here.
Overall this isn't a bad movie and it still is one of our classics. I liked it and I had a good time watching it, although it was far from perfect. That's why I give it a rating in between 7/10 and 7.5/10.
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