Review: Forbidden Eyes (2002)


Director: Elbert van Strien | 16 minutes | drama, horror, short film, romance, fantasy | Actors: Erik van der Horst, Elisah Braaksma, Rene van Asten

From the first shot of “Forbidden Eyes” you are trapped in a kind of Lynchian universe. We see a beautiful house with a hedge and a tree on either side and an equally symmetrical path around it. Then a shot of another modern house with two cars in front of the garage and a nice lawn next to it. A different house than a man mowing the grass in front of his house. In short, a very American, “white picket fense” atmosphere, which at first looks so perfect, but in Lynch films it forms the mask for all kinds of underlying atrocities and skeletons in cabinets. The fact that something is not right in this case is emphasized, in addition to the exaggerated “perfection”, by the mysterious purple light, which was a happy coincidence during the recording (there was a constant threat of thunder). Van Strien specifically searched for an American-style residential area and found it wonderfully in Hoofddorp.

Fernando is an alien in the film, or so we are told (by himself) at the beginning of the film, but it remains unclear for a long time to what extent this refers to reality or purely to his fantasy world. It is clear that Fernando himself, and his parents, do not behave in a natural way. The parents prefer to say as little as possible, move slowly and have a serious look. They also often lie on mats on the floor in a kind of trance. Fernando himself says that “his eyes see everything” and that he “can see through anyone”. However, at the same time he is not allowed to make contact with the people on earth. His job is to observe. This is all the more tragic when he falls in love with a girl in his class. He shouldn’t even look at her, because her look will make him die a certain death. But the urge is unbearable. He dreams of her and writes poems about her – one of which is discovered by the master and read in class.

The film touches on real problems of puberty, such as (sexual) desire, insecurity, and the feeling that you have no real contact with anyone. However, the power of love (or lust?) Appears to be overcome. Or can we understand the seductive Marlies as the biblical Eve, who offers Fernando’s Adam the apple and so drops it from paradise? Whatever we take from it, it is a moving story and as a viewer we feel Fernando’s inner conflict. Beautiful are the scenes with the two by the pool, when he is clearly fascinated by Marlies and her body, and must visibly hold back not to touch her or look her in the eye. An effective and above all atmospheric film by Elbert Van Strien, this “Forbidden Eyes”, who manages to deliver beautiful “fantastic” productions time and time again. Films like these are hopeful about the potential of Dutch Film.

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