An independent-thinking doctor in a rural community with his own ideas of how medicine should be practiced begins to find himself ostracized from the community after one of his patients comm... Read allAn independent-thinking doctor in a rural community with his own ideas of how medicine should be practiced begins to find himself ostracized from the community after one of his patients commits suicide.An independent-thinking doctor in a rural community with his own ideas of how medicine should be practiced begins to find himself ostracized from the community after one of his patients commits suicide.
Anyway, to get back to the film proper: the first I have heard of it was back in my childhood days while leafing through the second edition (dating from 1977) of Leslie Halliwell's Film Guide. While he only rated it a * star movie and was not particularly complementary to it, the sheer fact that he mentions the film therein was enough for me to seek it out when I had the chance. To paraphrase, it is described as a tragicomic Pagnol-esque farce that slips into parody: in hindsight, it is nowhere near as melodramatic or even enjoyable as that caption would seem to suggest...but neither is it as light and irreverent as the British DOCTOR and CARRY ON comedy series. Indeed the deliberate pacing of the narrative and the pictorial elements of the country setting is something wholly and typically Dutch; there are only a handful of major characters (the eccentric titular character, the cheeky but slightly deaf narrator and the pompous burgomaster) and, in most respects, they are pleasantly essayed. Incidentally, the title of the film actually translates to VILLAGE ON THE RIVER (which is displayed on the copy I watched) and it was accompanied by a feature-length documentary on Rademakers which I had to presently jettison due to time constraints. Apparently, the doctor character was the hero of a series of books but this was the only one of them to make it to the screen.
There only remains for me to point out some of the more memorable incidents depicted in the film: an expectant father is driven to distraction by the doctor's reluctance to interrupt his breakfasting and follow him hurriedly to his labouring wife's bedside – indeed, when he does go, he goes back again soon after to pick up his newspaper for it was still too early for his intervention; a group of men discuss the discovery of a hanging body in the belfry and decide that the man's wife had nagged him to death – at one point, one of the party challenges the other to a feat of bravery and, as a result, the hidden visage of the town's old crow (possibly disfigured by a sexually-transmitted disease) is soon uncovered (albeit offscreen); the doctor's eldest son is congratulated for his scientific prowess in building a bomb that, on exploding, destroys all the windows of the nearby houses and the town's plumbing; the doctor's wife dies and, although he buries her in his garden, he still conducts a public burial at the local cemetery; at one point, the perennially jailed narrator (who lives in a boathouse and is the doctor's confidante) is seduced by a buxom gypsy who leaves the next day and, later on, he literally hides inside the toilet in a shed acting as a public convenience but gives himself up when one of the pursuing cops goes to make his daily duties; at a public ceremony, the doctor humiliates the burgomaster by burning the envelope containing the sum of money which they have given him in recognition of his services to the community (but which was actually meant to buy his retirement), after which he promptly quits the ungrateful town anyway.
- Feb 22, 2014