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Steven de Jong
Willeke van Ammelrooy,
This fact based drama chronicles the last journey of Willem Barentsz and Jacob van Heemskerk on their search for a new passage to the Indies. Due to icy waters, they are stranded on the island of Novaya Zemlya and have to spend the winter there. The story is told through the eyes of Gerrit de Veer, an officer on the same voyage, and is loosely based on the famous diary he published in 1598 after his safe return. Written by
A beautiful ship on her voyage but led by an inexperienced captain
Nova Zembla doesn't hold up to the promises made. In fact, it fails utterly, which, truly, is a shame. An adventurous story, a beautiful setting and (for Dutch standards) good acting but all that cannot make watching this film bearable.
The storytelling is unbelievably slow. While being promised an action-packed heroic story it instead halts drastically every time a little climax should be due, resulting in the opposite. And if your film is to be made for a Dutch audience based on a classic Dutch history lesson almost every Dutch person will remember, you just can't get away with it. Not even with showing random scenes of Doutzen Kroes' breasts.
The cast was fine though and the acting wasn't particularly bad. The lines didn't seem forced and it all had a genuine feel, which is often lacking in Dutch films. The technical side of this film wasn't bad either and the effects, costumes, locations and props are a rare perfect blend.
It is clear this film lacked the experience of a great captain and should be a learning opportunity for inexperienced director Reinout Oerlemans. Nova Zembla fails to hoist the colours and sail full speed ahead and instead feels more like a rowing boat without oars. A typical trailer-beats-film.
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