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Upteenth version of Herman Heijermans' 1900 stage play (the earliest
film version has already been lost at sea), this time with an updated
story and a shift of emphasize in the lead character. Although the cast
list reads like a who's who of Dutch thespians, they all have to take a
step back to let teen idol Danny de Munk star. He who shot to fame two
years earlier in another remake, 'Ciske de Rat'. Desperate to give the
kid center stage in this picture too, screenwriter Karin Loomans
invented a love story for him and even a pop song to sing (since the
previous film landed him a huge hit single).
The opening sequence on the boat ('Op Hoop van Zegen', or 'De Hoop' for short) is gorgeously shot and accompanied by a stirring score by Rogier van Otterloo. Then we cut to a stormy night when a man falls overboard, planting the first seeds of foreshadowing into Barend (De Munk)'s mind. It's a shame we spent so little time on the actual Hoop, for as soon as we are on dry land, we are introduced to the entire population of a small fishermen's town. It helps somewhat that all of them are played by familiar faces, but there are still far too many relationships and loose family connections to keep track off.
Young Tamar van den Dop, in her film debut as Clementine, has a crush on Danny de Munk's character but her wealthy father Bos (Rijk de Gooyer) is sending every young man out on the unseaworthy Hoop. An attempt is made in this version to make the evil Bos slightly more sympathetic by giving him a self centered wife (Willeke van Ammelrooy) and a truly disgusting insurance man played with Geoffrey Rush like glee by Luc Lutz.
Apart from being a singer of songs and having the only Amsterdam accent in town, Barend is also a talented illustrator (sure, like he could make a living that way). Clementine tries to spill the beans about the boat but circumstances (and her father) conspire against puppy love and Barend and his controversial commie brother (Huub Stapel) are forced to set sail. Did I mention that the play originally centers around their mother Kniertje (Kitty Courbois)? Well, at least De Hoop was well insured. The same could not be said about this picture.
6 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is based upon the well-known play by the Dutch writer Herman Heijermans. It is a remake of a much earlier film version, and as is often the case, surpasses its predecessor. In fact it is a TV production, and the play has been extended into an epos of more than two hours. This means a partial rewrite, but the atmosphere of the play has been preserved and perhaps made more palatable. It tells the story of a Dutch village of fishermen, around the turn into the twentieth century. The film gives excellent shots of the life at sea and in the little village. Costumes and buildings have been selected with care and portrayed well. The cast is outstanding, with plenty of Dutch celebrities and illustrious actors: Danny de Munck, Renee Soutendijk, Kitty Courbois, Albert Mol, Rijk de Gooijer, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Ramses Shaffy, etc. The plot is like this: the shipping company Bos owns all the barges, and exploits the local fishermen in order to optimize profits. At the center is the family of the old woman Kniertje. Her man and some sons drowned in one of the many storms, that ravage the North Sea area. However, she still has two sons, Geert and Barend. Geert is a rebellious character, with socialist sympathies. Barend dislikes the fishing business, and fears to end just like his father. Op Hoop van Zegen is the name of one of the older barges. In a storm it is severely damaged, and has to be repaired on the ship yard. Rumours go, that its planks are rotten and it is a floating coffin. This is even admitted by the supervisor of the yard, in a state of drunkenness. The main obstacle to its use would be the inspector of the insurance company (and the conscience of Bos, if it had been there). Unfortunately the inspector is a highly corrupt and unscrupulous character, who accepts the bribe of Bos, and even extorts some more. So the Op Hoop van Zegen is declared fit for her next voyage. Geert finds it hard to get a job, and is glad to join the crew. Barend refuses to enlist, but Kniertje forces him to board. The youth cries: "You will never see me again!" And of course this is what happens: another storm rages, and the Op Hoop van Zegen is lost. The shipping owner simulates sorrow, but happily cashes the insurance sum. Most of the scenes make the viewer balance between disbelief and cynicism. The dominating character is Kniertje, who suffers most under the exploitation of shipping owner Bos, but misses the strength to rebel. A nice touch is the naive daughter of the shipping owner, who gets on friendly terms with Barend. She just is unable to perceive the doings of her father. Imho Op Hoop van Zegen is an even better portrayal of the crooked ways of early capitalism than the famous La Terra Trema. Here the workers indeed have no other choice than to sell themselves with body and soul. It is an excellent film, and highly recommended.
It has been a while since i have seen this one. But anyone with a
healthy interest in history and drama can appreciate this.
I grew up in a dutch coastal village and i recognized so much in this movie that i value it highly as a view into history.
Even if you are not a fan of the sea or the likes, this movie is still good because of the drama. Everything is in it, love, hate, the lot.
I do not know if there are translated versions of this movie, so it might be just a typical dutch speaking movie.
Great atmosphere, the acting is also very good. Famous dutch actors, but quality is there for sure.
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