News - February 8, 2012

The legend of 63

Elfstedentocht, the 11-city ice skating tour, has recently dominated the headlines of all the Dutch newspapers. Inevitably it's associated with a movie, 'de hel van 63'. I'd like to give a one-word remark on it: 'must-see'.

Wageningen in the silver version
The film is based on the Elstedentocht 1963: four heroes, joining the 200km marathon with different backgrounds and goals, encounter in the howling snowstorm. With strong resolution, love and friendship, they trudge through blood, tears and all hardships, finally to cross the finishing line in Leeuwaarden.
Even though the plot is a bit Hollywoodish, that little flaw will not outweigh the merits, it's an encyclopedic epic containing many typical Dutch emblems: pannenkoeken, the UNOX snert or erwtensoep (pea soup), the Verkade snack, the Friese doorloper (Frisian skates). All of these, I guess, could easily strike a chord in Dutch hearts. In brief, the Dutch genes can be seen everywhere in the film.
I especially appreciate that in the movie they present Fries, the dialect in the north province Friesland, which ironically makes subtitles necessary for some Dutch people. This provides the stark contrast to Mr. Spielberg's Oscar-favorite 'War Horse', in which the German and French always speak English. Now I understand why not everyone buys what Hollywood sells; sometimes it's true that small is better.
Previously I'd watched 'Zwartboek' (black book), a more famous made-in-Holland film, but with Chinese dubbing. This time, although for the first time to see a Dutch movie without dubbing or subtitle, I managed to get goose bumps by the straightforward dialogues and emotional music. And for the first time the Dutch showed me they can also do something serious: to chase a small badge for the spiritual glory.
For the sake of the economic crisis, please dear 22 rayonhoofden (regional heads in Friesland), could you play some magic and make the legend revive in the coming days?
Vid of the week: The trailer of the movie"de hel van 63"