Unfortunately my review about nine hours of film did not fit within 1000 words. Therefore I review the first four episodes at Episode IV, the next four at Episode VIII, and the final three at Episode XI.
The TV series Merijntje Gijzen's Jeugd was broad casted in 1975, in 12 episodes of 45 minutes each. Fortunately in 2010 the broadcasting association released the produce on 3 DVDs. The story about the boy Merijntje Gijzen has become a part of the Dutch cultural heritage. Until the sixties his creator, A.M. de Jong, was one of the most popular Dutch writers. Nowadays the peasants communities that he describes have disappeared, which makes his works less accessible. He wrote eight volumes of 200 pages each about the youth of Merijntje Gijzen. I have them all in my bookcase, but alas, lack time to read them. However, it is immediately clear that even nine hours of film can not completely represent 1600 pages of text. The stage is a village in a southern province of the Netherlands, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Village life is still slow and isolated, and the primitive society revolves around the parish priest, who as the representative of the catholic church is the bearer of moral and ethics. A.M. de Jong was a teacher and writer, who himself lived in the province. It was a somewhat hostile environment, since he was a socialist. However his social democratic preferences are not propagated in the narrative, apart from a true interest and pity for the hard life of the common people. Eventually de Jong had a lamentable death, since during WWII he was murdered by a Dutch fascist. Already in 1936 a film version of the saga was released. Obviously the present TV version is much more complete, and as a result can elaborate more on the personalities of the main characters. Of course a boy itself can hardly have an interesting personality. Merijntje is still totally obsessed by the moral lessons of the local priest. He becomes the favorite choirboy. On the other hand in his small and isolated community the devout Merijntje becomes an anchor for others.
I found the TV series moving. This is partly because the Netherlands in the nineteenth century was almost completely agricultural, and therefore everybody has farmers among his ancestors (grandparents or great grandparents). The memory and the nostalgia linger on. However, as I already mentioned, with every new generation this memory fades, and soon it will have become abstract history. Therefore new generations may find the film long-winded. There are no subtitles, and the dialect probably makes the dialogs inaccessible to foreign viewers. However, even then the film scenes about the country and village life remain worth watching - if the subject interests you. The scenes in Rotterdam are slightly disappointing, because in these episodes the set is clearly built in a studio. Since the roofs and the sky are absent, nearly all of the street scenes are filmed from above. But of course the costumes and furniture are still authentic.
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