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In January 1945, during the 2nd world-war, the Dutch resistance kills a collaborator in the street where the 12 year old Anton Steenwijk lives. The man was shot in front of his neighbors house, but is moved by them to the house of the family Steenwijk. Because of this, his father, mother and brother are killed by the Germans, and their house is set to fire. During his life, Anton meets several people that tell him more about what really happened on the night of the assault. Written by
What is really fascinating in this Dutch movie is the way the past takes shape again,little by little,on a very long period:the hero is a middle-age man when he finally learns the final truth .What is less convincing in the implausibility of these situations and the main flaw of the work :each time a new character appears,outside of course of the two wives,his only purpose is to provide the hero with new facts about the tragedy he went through when he was 12.
And however the story is absorbing:the first scenes ,during the fateful night are harrowing,first in the parents 'house or in the icy landscape that surrounds it or in the dungeon where the young boy meets the female Resistance fighter.
Then begins the child's adult life and while there are very strong scenes ,there are also some flaws: too much voice-over ("He spends his Easter holiday in London" "He gets married" are completely pointless:the picture is enough),and it's really difficult to follow the hero's psychological change (why for instance does he get divorce?) But its questionings (who are the heroes ? who are the traitors?) sometimes recalls Jorge Luis Borges.One of the best scenes shows Anton talking with the collaborator's son:who is the victim NOW? did this young man and his mother deserve what happened to them?"They 're living" replies Anton.
And is Anton's attitude -stay away from the events that shakes the world- so worthwhile?That's why the last scene is very revealing:finally he understood that responsibility is everywhere and should be shared by everyone.
In spite of its flaws,it's certainly one of the most interesting European movies of the eighties.
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