Eline Vere is a neurotic young woman with a turbulent family. Eline is the victim of the narrow-mindedness which permeated The Hague at the beginning of the 19th century. In this film Kümel opposes magnificent images of the stiff, snow-covered with the colorful and vivid Brussels. Adaptation of Couperus' intriguing novel, Eline Vere. Written by
Eline Vere (famous novel by Louis Couperus) put into images by Harry Kumel
Those whose impressions of the Netherlands are dominated by the hip modern city of Amsterdam may be unaware that for centuries the country was noted for a pervasive bourgeois stodginess that exceeded anything that Henrik Ibsen ever said about the Norwegian middle class of his time. In 1889, Dutch society was set on its ears by the novel Eline Vere by Louis Couperus (heavily influenced by French writers Gustave Flaubert and Emile Zola), which minutely described the mores, manners and hypocrisies of the time. This novel boasts a Dickensian richness of description and vivid characterizations. The melodramatic film follows Eline Vere (Marianne Basler), the heroine of the novel, as she attempts to break free from the confines of her narrow existence in Den Haag (the Hague) through three tumultuous and ultimately disastrous courtships. Despite the presence of international stars like Marianne Basler, Michael York, Aurore Clement, the movie remains static and without any emotion. Maybe that was a deliberate choice by director Harry Kumel. There are some emotions to experience at the very end of the movie, in the scenes accompanied by music from Richard Wagner "Liebestod" out of the opera Tristan und Isolde. The scenes are beautifully shot and, in a way, make up for the boredom which went on for the previous 2 hours or so. All in all, however, I doubt if any director deliberately chooses to make a 2 hour long movie just to make a point only to end it with some additional minutes containing beautifully shot scenes accompanied by beautiful music... Harry Kumel did much better work with Monsieur Hawarden (1968), Les Levres Rouges (1970) and Malpertuis (1971).
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