Otanes is certain that Smerdis, King of Persia is an impostor. He gathers together a group of people to stage a coup, only to face the question of which one of them will be worthy to take the thrown.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jan Van Rooyen ...
Otanes
Hidde Maas ...
Smerdis
Hugo Koolschijn ...
Darius
Belinda Meuldijk ...
Fatima
Walter Kous ...
Megabysos
Kitty Courbois ...
Artystone
Gees Linnebank ...
Sesames
Cor van Rijn ...
Gautama
Jaap Hoogstra ...
Prexaspes
Ernst Winar ...
Volkoudste
Huib Broos ...
Oibares
Jan Vreeken ...
Intaphernes
Ralph Wingers ...
Aspathines
Ruud van Hemert ...
Gobryas
Ger Van Der Grijn ...
Hydarneus
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Storyline

Otanes is certain that Smerdis, King of Persia is an impostor. He gathers together a group of people to stage a coup, only to face the question of which one of them will be worthy to take the thrown.

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11 March 1976 (Netherlands)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

This TV special can be found on disc 1 of Wim T. Schippers' Televisiepraktijken DVD box 9: Single Plays & Vroeg Werk. See more »

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Follows De steen (1974) See more »

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Schippers does Mulisch
7 November 2010 | by (Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

When the celebrated and recently deceased writer Harry Mulisch handed in his adaptation of Herodotus work as part of a series of historical TV movies produced by the VPRO in the early Seventies, it was deemed impossible to produce because of budget restrictions. Apparently it was Mulisch himself who suggested to have VPRO stalwart Wim T. Schippers have a crack at it, who in turn accepted on the terms of having final say in what ended up on screen. Subsequently, 'Volk en Vaderliefde' became Schipper's official solo directing debut (having previously on his previous TV shows worked in tandem with Ruud van Hemert (who directed another of the Herodotus tales and appears as an actor here), Gied Jaspars and Wim van der Linden. The result is a one hour performance filled with curly wigs, bushy fake beards and difficult to remember names.

The play starts rather abruptly (or at least the DVD version does) as if the viewer has just missed the start of the first scene. Then the following Pythonesque indication of place and time appears on screen: Soesa, Persia, Wednesday 17 October 521 b.c., as well as the opening credits. Persia is ruled by King Smerdis (Hidde Maas) who has decided not to celebrate his first birthday as ruler. His father in law Otanes (Jan van Rooyen) suspects that Smerdis is not the actual king but an impostor. And he just cannot stand the thought of his beloved daughter Fatima (Belinda Meuldijk) sharing the bed of anyone but the rightful heir to the throne.

When Otanes learns that the real Smerdis does not have any ears, he asks his servant Sesames (Gees Linnebank) to make sure Fatima checks beneath the King's headgear. As Fatima does her fathers bidding, actress Belinda Meuldijk is nuder than ever before or since (not even her Dutch Playboy spread was as full frontal as some of her scenes seen here). Soon the spiteful father is forming a group of conspirators who all swear allegiance to a statue of Mitros before staging a coup against the impostor called Smerdis (who by pure coincidence did turn out to also be called Smerdis, for that was a very popular name at the time).

In adapting Mulisch' script, Schippers introduced a modern couple watching and commenting on the play at home: Cees (Willem Veldhuysen) and Tine (Marijke Kleyn). Cees is reading a novel (also by Mulisch of the same name simultaneously, leading him to point out several details and filling in some of the big battle scenes that would have been too expensive for the VPRO to depict on screen. Also, for some reason Schippers has one character in the story, Megabysos, driving off in a car Blazzing Saddles style.

Once the false King is overthrown, their remains the question of who will take his place on the thrown. After a lengthy debate which includes a wordless and rather baffling cameo by Joost Prinsen, the town elder decrees that all the candidates will gather the next day at dawn on horseback, and the one who's horse neighs first, will be the new king. Of course one of them comes up with a way to make sure his horse will make the first noise. But just as Cees is trying to explain exactly how this will be done, he and Tine get an unexpected visit from their friend Piet (Huug Bijvanck) who would rather talk about his new car (the same one we saw earlier in the past perhaps?). Schippers comes up with another original storytelling technique here: he has newcomer Piet talk all through the end credits, focusing on an increasingly impatient Cees, who finally gets to reveal the trick of the king to be after the credits have completed their run.

7 out of 10


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