“Zeeuwse knights” is the celebrated (won audience award Film by the Sea 2010) documentary about the tradition of ring stitching that has been forgotten by many, but certainly not extinct. The art lover may be familiar with this use from a painting by Breughel or Jeroen Bosch, but for those who no longer know: in ring stabbing, riders ride an un saddled horse at a gallop (or trot – at least with a little speed) with a lance towards a hanging ring. It is the intention that the rider tries to put the lance in the ring. The ring studs stick up to thirty rings in a day and whoever hits the most rings at the end of the day is the winner.
There is a lot of attention for image and atmosphere in this documentary. The Zeeland landscape, the stone farms, the cyclists in the meadows and the riders who ride through the surf on diligent workhorses give the documentary a nostalgic character. The documentary makers also know how to bring the village community feeling to the fore. We witness the friendly atmosphere at a village meeting and see how the ring plugs clean up the mess themselves after the events. Where is it still done? So in certain regions of Zeeland.
The documentary makers know how to get the right people in front of the camera, with the announcer covering the events through the speaker of commentary being perhaps the most striking figure. To give you an idea of his floral and dramatic language: “It is the crème de la crème and who am I to beat this for you. Really, then you get goosebumps. And if there is a winner and there are tears, this speaker can sometimes strike an emotional tone. Because nothing human is alien to me. ”
The most important and most spoken persons in the documentary are father Sander Willemse and his two sons Roel and Lou. The father is a former champion and would love to win the statue of the queen a fifth time (that is the highest prize in the ring mark). He won’t be able to do that anymore, but his sons are both very talented. However, his son Roel has more of an eye for football and playing music at dance parties than for the ring sign. He will only get involved in the sport in the future. Unfortunately….
Although it is a well-shot film, “Zeeuwse knights” is not a documentary in which the story tells you afterwards. The big problem is that the documentary doesn’t really have a point. Ring stitching, or ring riding as the Zeelanders call it, has actually become more popular in recent years and the tradition is not under pressure. And is it really that bad when Roel stops with ring stitches or when father Willemse does not win a fifth statue?