"The Kavijaks" is a five part miniseries that tells the story of a rural Flemish family during and immediately after the second World War.A family consisting of an an exhausted mother and thirteen children dominated by a callous and fear-inspiring father they call "the general".These are harsh times and the will to survive for the children after the death of their mother and the ever increasing brutality and indifference of their father make their plight all the more difficult.Although the war is evidently present, it is used more as a background against which a study unfolds of human nature and particularly that of the amazing adaptability of children to overcome even the most extreme circumstances.Just as many adults conspire with the Germans in order to survive, the blood bond between the children gives them the strength to confront their vicious father and the menacing presence of the foreign enemy and also enables them to discover ingenious ways of obtaining food and other necessities for their well-being. It is widely accepted that it is an extremely difficult task to direct children in a movie. Stijn Coninx however succeeds in bringing the best out of a group of youngsters with little or no acting experience at all. There is no contrived acting here and the enthusiastic presence of all these young people is a sheer delight to experience.The historical settings are both accurate and convincing and the whole bathes in a form of lighting that accentuates reminiscences from the past. Jan Decleir as "the general" is of course once again remarkable: as all great actors he needs no extensive lines to prove his talents: his formidable presence alone literally fills the screen and captures the viewer's attention over and over again.The above comments relate essentially to the first three episodes of the series that as mentioned before consists of five parts.Episodes 4 & 5 tell the ongoing story of the Kavijak family after the departure of their father and the ups and downs they encounter as adults in a post-war environment.
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