On Hope of Blessing (1986)
Directed by: Guido Pieters | 100 minutes | drama | Actors: Kitty Courbois, Danny de Munck, Renée Soutendijk, Huub Stapel, Rijk de Gooyer, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Tamar van den Dop, Lex Goudsmit, Albert Mol, Ramses Shaffy, Dorijn Curvers, Leen Jongewaard, Ellen Veger, Luc Lutz, Suze Bosch, Babs Sombogaart, Herman Kortekaas, Lettie Oosthoek, Ellen Röhrman, Jolanda van IJken, Edmond Classen, Jaap Stobbe, Hans Beijer, Niek Pancras, Remco van Dijk, Henrico Traas, Fedor Limperg
The Netherlands also has its classics. The play ‘Op hope of blessing’ by Herman Heijermans is one of them. The tragic story of the skipper’s widow Kniertje and her sons Barend and Geert has already been filmed five times. The last film adaptation dates from 1986, directed by Guido Pieters and with rising star Danny de Munck as the lead actor.
The result is hit and miss to say the least. That volatility is partly due to his acting. Not all actors are equally talented and some that are, act in front of the camera as if they were on stage. Opposite the natural of Renée Soutendijk and Huub Stapel, for example, is the slightly too heavy acting of Ramses Shaffy and Kitty Courbois. Young Danny de Munck and Tamar van den Dop don’t get much further than well-intentioned school drama, while veteran Luc Lutz makes a mess of it. That poor acting is partly related to the dialogues, which often have something old-fashioned.
The accompanying music is equally variable. Rogier van Otterloo provided a monumental score with a recurring theme such as a melancholy prophecy. But halfway through the film we are treated to a misplaced tear-jerker by the duo Fluitsma and Van Thijn, a tear-jerker whose listening can give you a strong trauma. Perhaps the intention was to score a hit with this – in imitation of De Munck’s success song from Ciske de Rat – but that was understandably not successful.
The photography of ‘Op Hoop van Blessing’ is a hundred percent successful. The skies, seascapes and interiors are repeatedly reminiscent of the masters of Dutch painting. The problem is that, in contrast to that visual realism, a clumsy society is presented that can only be found in old books but that never existed in reality. The Monkey-Noot-Mies level is therefore much too high and clashes enormously with the social-realistic drama presented here.
All in all, this adaptation of ‘Op Hoop van Blessing’ has certainly not become a seaworthy case. But since the play has still not lost any of its power or relevance, we can safely wait for the next film adaptation. And if three times is a charm, we are of course completely chiseled with six times.