Review: Exit (2012)


Directed by: Jan-Jaap Kuiper | 16 minutes | short movie

Now that you can say that the people who consciously experienced the First World War have already largely died, the realization arises that the number of people in the generation who can tell stories from their own experience about what they experienced in the Second World War is not for the foreseeable future. A bad thought, apart from personal involvement with that group of people, but also because of keeping the memory alive. Fortunately, there are institutions in the Netherlands for this, such as the National Committee on 4 and 5 May, which ensures that the horrors of the Second World War are not forgotten and that we remain grateful for the course of history. It is also nice that there are people who are inspired by first-hand stories and then incorporate this into art in their own way. For example, filmmaker Jan Jaap Kuiper (“Pjotr ​​- Letters from the Gulag”, “Sinner’s Disease”) was encouraged to make the short film “Leave” by his grandfather, Jan Bartelds. Grandpa Bartelds told ten-year-old Jan Jaap about an exciting, rather: terrifying event from his early years during the Second World War. The effect this story had on the filmmaker was great: he had bad dreams, in which he saw his grandfather’s adventure in his own way.

That story, about the forbidden cargo, hidden under the cargo that Jan Jaap’s grandfather was transporting for the Germans, was almost discovered by a few German soldiers, is the basis of ‘Verlaat’ (‘leave’ is another word for lock). The filmmaker has chosen to approach the story from his own experience: it is therefore not a reconstruction of the event, but a dreamy representation of how history has formed in his memory. As a result, “Leave” is not always coherent, but the director nevertheless manages to turn it into a fascinating whole, precisely because the sometimes nightmarish images are so recognizable as nightmarish. The alienating soundtrack supports the images perfectly. The fear of the young Jan Bartelds (17 at the time of the event) and that of the aspiring film director thus becomes very real for the viewer. It makes “Leave” an impressive short film, which clearly shows the craftsmanship of the maker. An important film too, which hopefully will help preserve the memories of the Second World War.

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