It's not often that Dutch films get seen outside of the Netherlands and this one certainly deserved to be. The plot is based on a true story from the turn of the 20th century, in which three brothers, all of them left-wing activists, were imprisoned for a crime they did not commit, partly assisted by false evidence given by the victims, one of whom is the embittered ex-lover of one of the brothers.
In the hands of a mainstream Hollywood director, the film would no doubt have been given the sledge-hammer treatment, i.e. everything in "black and white", goody-goody socialists and workers and baddie authorities. Instead, it is shown as life is, with its varying shades of grey. The hero (one of the brothers, played by Peter Tuinman) is a slightly annoying character: he is bombastic and loves nothing more than delivering long speeches in the best Fidel Castro tradition. The real perpetrators of the crime are fellow socialists and are only too happy to see their comrades falling victim to a miscarriage of justice. A local socialist hero turns out to be a coward: too frightened to get involved, he disappears abroad, despite having crucial evidence that could have proved the brothers' innocence. And, on the other side, the investigator is not a wicked man: he wants the real perpetrators to be punished but ultimately lacks the courage to take a stand. All this is portrayed with a lightness of touch that makes this a great film.
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