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The Hell of '63 More at IMDbPro »De hel van '63 (original title)

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

A non-typically-Dutch Masterpiece

9/10
Author: Marijn de Groot (myportal28@gmail.com) from Netherlands
28 December 2009

Even though I am Dutch, I am not a fan of Dutch Cinema. Therefore this movie surprised me even more than I had hoped for. I enjoyed every minute of this icy ride about the worlds longest ice-skating tour. Director Steven de Jong has provided new hope for Dutch cinema by doing an excellent job. The 'elfstedentocht'(tour of eleven cities) van '63 was a unique and timeless event that deserved a great film like this and I am happy to have experienced this.

This whole movie is just excellent and two points deserve special attention regarding the history of Dutch Movies. One thing that has often irritated me in these movies is the unnatural acting. Actors are often acting too much instead of just being relaxed and natural in their role. The actors in this movie are not superior, but they are very natural. And that just makes them and the movie as a whole much more convincing. The second great thing is the camera-work. To give some grandeur to this movie the camera often swings into great heights, crawls under the ice and/or fades from a film-image to a map and vice-versa. The accompanying music creates effects not seen before in Dutch cinema. It really lifts this movie to another level and creates refreshing perspectives. Steven de Jong even portrayed the harsh element of wind in the form of luring icy animals. Something completely unexpected and until now unseen in Dutch movies.

Altogether this is a great and unexpected arrival that gets a rating of nine. And I am looking forward to new releases that can match this one.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This could have been a much better movie

6/10
Author: Sander de Jong from Netherlands
4 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Eleven Cities ice skating race of 200 kilometers, edition 1963, has an infamous name in The Netherlands. So it should give enough inspiration for an exciting movie. I found the last minutes of this movie the most impressive: to see the real people, around whom the movie is centered. And the simple statement: "Of the 10,000 amateur skaters who took part in this race, only 69 managed to finish".

In its execution, however, this movie has some big problems. Some of these have already been mentioned in the other reviews. My biggest objection was this: in the movie two languages are spoken: Dutch and Frisian. One of the main characters - Sjoerd, played by Lourens van den Akker - is not a native Frisian speaker and you can hear it. It's really terrible for people who can speak or understand Frisian. It's distracting, to say the least. This spoiled a lot for me. All other Frisian speaking actors are native speakers: that's how it should be!

Question: how can Willeke van Ammelrooy play the mother of Chantal Janzen? What genius came up with that? On the other hand: I think Chris Zegers was cast properly, even though his hair was too long for 1963.

What is also good about the movie are the cameos. Look at the full cast at IMDb and spot the famous people: professional ice skaters, an ice skating coach, the winner of the Elfstedentocht of 1997.

Some scenes have been shot in Friesland, or look like they have been shot there, and some obviously have not been. Friesland does not have hills. Along the route are no woods. The weather was depicted as horrible, it's what we expect: legend has it, it was truly dreadful. The movie has some funny details as well, such as the smoking nurse in the hospital.

I have given this movie a 6/10: the fact that it's there is good. The cameos are good. The weather is good. Most Frisian actors speak well. All other things are not good. Some director: please do this one more time! But better please!

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Very disappointing!

2/10
Author: maaswoud from Netherlands
27 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I do not understand how some people can classify this a masterpiece. It's junk: the storyline(s), the dialogs, the editing, the year 1963 is not accurately portrayed.

Some examples: One of the (young) female actors escapes by faking that she is an doctor of medicine. In 1963 female doctors were very rare. The girl is about 20/22 years of ages, but she is taken seriously in her profession.

The automobiles in the movie have YELLOW license plates, which were not introduced in the Netherlands before the early '80. The plates in 1963 were BLUE. The movie makers did feel the urge to take a simple screwdriver to fix the accurate plates. It tells you something about the amount of effort the movie makers are willing to put in their masterpiece.

Then there is the story, which is an assembly of 4 stories, portrayed by 4 individuals that meet on the ice (3 men and 1 woman). They all have the same goal: to finish the race. Good idea, but it does not work. There are some unnecessary sidelines that distract from the main story lines. As a viewer you are hopping between the 4 story lines without feeling the intended emotions. The music is rather good. It could have taken me if there was anything to cling to.

The dialogs do not fit in the year 1963. The sentences are full of 21th-century-vocabulairy. People talked and behaved differently in 1963. The movie makers never seem to bother. So, the feeling of being in the 60ties did never hit me.

The accidents on the ice are disappointing. Some scenes in the movie are just tasteless. One of the main characters gets very hungry on the ice and starts hallucinating. The visualization of this looks like a poorly made you tube clip.

Some of the special effects were nice. The cold weather is visualized by wolves that run through the clouds. They seem to be edited randomly and do not come to their full potential, but it looked nice. The ice, snow and wind are well done, also.

Overall, I am disappointed. A monumental ice race, like the Elfstedentocht, deserves more respect than this.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Brings the heroes of the ice alive

8/10
Author: hvanoorschot from Netherlands
13 January 2010

I went to this movie not expecting too much and having read a review that only gave it two of five stars. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to see what a good movie Steven de Jong made of the events took place on this day in 1963 when 10.000 people started an ice-skating tour that only 69 of the tourskaters would bring to an end. The story brings four people together that have different reasons for taking part in the tour. The stories are nicely brought together. We also get a good feel of how harsh this tour was. The cinematography is on a high level and the music is great. Also good to see that a main part is spoken in Frisian as this event takes place in Friesland. I would recommend this to anyone who like to see a realistic fight for survival on the ice that brings people together in such a way that only the 11-cities tour can.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Worse than I thought!

3/10
Author: jbrouwers3 from Netherlands
4 February 2012

It took a while for me to see this flick, and I was already weary after seeing the publicity stills, but it was much worse than I expected. I cannot believe it is being rated as high as it is.

The director, Steven De Jong, directed a lot of children's films and it shows. The movie contains some of the worst acting in The Netherlands, which is a pity because there are actually some decent actors involved. The score is awful, pompous and would better fit Gladiator. The film is full of clichés, expect one every five minutes. Anachronisms occur throughout the movie: Holland did not look like this in 1963 (I was there!) and one of the main characters has a eighties hairdo. And on top of it all, the fake snow they sprayed on everyone, oh my God!! Don't bother watching it, it will save you a lot of frustration. If you're in for a laugh, buy it!

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A disastrous attempt to make an epic movie

3/10
Author: rodnet from Netherlands
2 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yesterday I had the dubious pleasure of watching this movie. The movie portrays the adventures of four individuals during the 1963 Elfstedentocht, by far the most important skating event in the world.

Without going into detail on the (rather lame) storyline, I have to say that I was deeply saddened by the whole product. While the movie has some good points (mainly the outdoor scenes, which were filmed in Lapland and sometimes gave some idea of the grueling circumstances in which the 1963 edition took place), the storyline was completely unbelievable, the acting was a farce and most of all, the complete and utter negligence of the makers regarding the use of the correct period materials and conversation was a shambles. Another review mentioned the yellow license plates, which were introduced in the early eighties, but also the cars are wrong, the telephones are wrong and the long hair of Chris Zegers is completely idiotic for that time (even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones wore suites at the time).

I could go on forever but I will not because this movie does not deserve that many attention. It is just plain ridiculous. I remember the 1963 race (I was five at the time and watched parts of it on my grandfathers television set) and when I read the two positive reviews already published I felt the need to balance this plainly wrong opinions.

This movie is a missed opportunity and does NOT do any justice to the epic 1963 Elfstedentocht. It might be enough to please the 5 to 9 year old but certainly anyone with some recollection of the period will be shocked.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

This movie is absolutely dreadful in many ways !!

2/10
Author: ilja scholten from Netherlands
2 February 2012

This movie is absolutely dreadful in many ways !!

a) As a movie of any kind, about any place, and about any event. (script , acting, plot, direction, etc – all are very, very poor indeed)

b) an a "faction" account of a historical event (compare : depict concentration camps as holiday resorts and you get the idea.)

c) as an alleged representation of a real country (a province) in 1963 (the date of the event). Go to Disney Land or another fantasy and be disappointed when seeing the real thing.

If you see a commercial made by a local tourist bureau you expect that many things are made a bit "rosy" and more attractive than when you get there. Indeed, the scenes of the villages etc. are lovely …….. and false.

AND INDEED, by golly, the local provincial governments (i.e. the taxpayers) DID put a lot of money in this movie.

Yes, I am Dutch. Yes, I remember the winter of 1963. Yes, I myself skated on that day – although my "endurance" was a far cry from the participants of this 200 kilometers competition AND (simultaneous) "recreational" skaters.

(Just a statistic: 9.862 people started, i.e. participated – 127 made it to the finish.)

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