Mata Hari (1981)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Biography, Drama
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Exotic dancer Mata Hari is arrested on suspicion of treason. Before her trial she is questioned thoroughly reveals her life story from her childhood in Zeeland, her marriage in Indonesia and her success and espionage in France.

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Series cast summary:
Josine van Dalsum ...
 Mata Hari (4 episodes, 1981)
Siem Vroom ...
 Bouchardon (4 episodes, 1981)
Jan Teulings ...
 Clunet (4 episodes, 1981)
Lo van Hensbergen ...
 Semprou (4 episodes, 1981)
Leen Jongewaard ...
 Baudouin (4 episodes, 1981)
Jules Hamel ...
 Alfred Kiepert (3 episodes, 1981)
Henk van Ulsen ...
 Mornet (3 episodes, 1981)
Lies de Wind ...
 Anna Lintjens (3 episodes, 1981)
Maria de Booy ...
 Zuster Léonide (3 episodes, 1981)
Piet Kamerman ...
 John MacLeod (2 episodes, 1981)
Bram van der Vlugt ...
 Van der Capellen (2 episodes, 1981)
Willem Nijholt ...
 Ladoux (2 episodes, 1981)
Maxim Hamel ...
 Guimet (2 episodes, 1981)
Roelant Radier ...
 Vadime de Massloff (2 episodes, 1981)
Robert Sobels ...
 Goubet (2 episodes, 1981)
Ben Aerden ...
 Franz (2 episodes, 1981)
Tom van Beek ...
 Cramer (2 episodes, 1981)
Manon Alving ...
 Juffrouw Plaat (2 episodes, 1981)
Will Van Selst ...
 Jean Hallaure (2 episodes, 1981)


Exotic dancer Mata Hari is arrested on suspicion of treason. Before her trial she is questioned thoroughly reveals her life story from her childhood in Zeeland, her marriage in Indonesia and her success and espionage in France.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama





Release Date:

1 October 1981 (Netherlands)  »

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(4 episodes)

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Version of The Sex Life of Mata Hari (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Your secret spy code in order to proceed is H21-AF44
3 February 2010 | by (Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

John van de Rest had already cast his wive Josine van Dalsum in lead roles for 'Heilige Jeanne'. 'L'homme d'Amsterdam' and 'Kant Aan m'n Broek' before they collaborated on their Magnum Opus in 1981: Mata Hari. The result is a scrumptious looking 4 part mini-series that looks almost as expensive to have been produced as 1984's Willem van Oranje, but unlike the latter, didn't need the backing of three different broadcasters, just the KRO. To compensate for the budget, the series was sold to several other European countries to be dubbed and broadcast and Josine even wrote a book, "Ik, Mata Hari" based on her husbands screenplay. Van Dalsum leads an impressive cast of Dutch thespians, but is the only one to appear in practically every scene, making it a true tour de force for her.

As the series reveals the life story of famed exotic dancer and some time World War One spy Mata Hari, it was to be expected that there would be a fair amount of nudity by the leading lady, which I suppose didn't hurt the ratings either. Indeed, Josine drops her clothes often and unexpectedly in each of the four episodes. The unexpected part comes from the fact that her life story is told by her in flashback while awaiting her trial in France, 1917. The first scene (before the credits of episode one) leads up to Mata's execution and as such is also the last scene in episode four. And while Mata starts at the beginning while recounting her past, she soon begins to skip back and forth between her childhood, her first and only marriage, her career as an 'Indianesian' dancer and her days as a spy.

With any mini-series it is to be expected that the viewer should pay attention and not miss any of the installment lest they lose the plot. Thanks to John van de Rest's intricate time construction, casual viewers might get lost within minutes while watching any of the four installments. There are flashbacks within flashbacks, years are skipped at a whim, only to be recounted later on after all and some characters appear for only a couple of scenes episodes apart. But then I guess that is the way the human memory works. Episode four is especially hard to keep up with. This series is not for people who enjoy watching soap operas while doing other household chores simultaneously.

Still, if one is interested in the historical character and/or the Great War, as well as being willing to sit down and pay attention from start to finish, Mata Hari is very rewarding. Josine van Dalsum gives the performance of her life, and with her recent passing, the DVD-box is well worth seeking out. The series was recently shown on digital channel 'Nostalgienet', but in this case it was cut up into eight parts. Inevitably some of the extra breaks between episodes came in the middle of a flashback, making the series even more difficult to follow, so the DVD is the preferred way to watch it.

8 out of 10

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