Review: Pastoral 1943 (1978)

Pastoral 1943 (1978)

Directed by: Wim Verstappen | 127 minutes | drama, war | Actors: Hein Boele, Femke Boersma, Mircea Crisan, Frederik de Groot, Diana Dobbelman, Wim Dröge, Bernard Droog, Coen Flink, Klaus Götte, Rutger Hauer, Leen Jongewaard, Geert de Jong, Marijke Kleyn, Sylvia Kristel, Pieter Lutz, Sacco van der Made, Lutz Moik, Onno Molenkamp, ​​Gerard Pieterse, Peter Römer, Paul Röttger, Liane Saalborn, Renée Soutendijk, Maarten Spanjer, Jaap Stobbe, Dick Van Toorn, Bram van der Vlugt, Ulrich von Dobschütz, Pim Vosmaer, Wim Wama

With ‘Pastorale 1943’, director Verstappen succeeds in presenting a truthful and cinematically attractive story of the occupied Netherlands during the Second World War. The film is balanced, offers diverse points of view and features actors who raise the level to greater heights. An excellent representation of the German occupation of the Netherlands. What is striking about ‘Pastorale’ is that it highlights the side of the traitors. The NSB member Poerstamper, a local tradesman who is employed by the occupying forces, plays an important role in the whole. Attention is paid to the cliché about traitors: the NSB members are reviled by the local population and the family appears somewhat clumsy. However, Verstappen also focuses on the son of the house, who does not hesitate to report suspicious persons to his father, who then passes it on to the Germans. Later in the story you find that these characters, however disgusting their behavior may be, are driven by fear in wartime.

While the focus on the Nazi vassals is interesting, it remains more attractive to follow the fortunes of those who risk their lives to save the lives of others. De Groot is such a striking person, who arranges shelters for people who are fleeing the horrible regime. De Groot (‘Grijpstra & De Gier’) plays an excellent role as a German teacher, who is also of German descent, which raises a number of barriers when the Germans occupy the Dutch country. Restrained and very serious, he shows his great acting talent.

The ladies Kristel and De Jong also contribute. Kristel (‘Emmanuelle’) appears in a modest role, which, however, turns out to be of great symbolic significance. She works at the same school as De Groot and is seen by almost everyone as a ‘Muffin wife’ because she has an affair with a German officer. But is she a traitor? You can actually say the exact opposite of De Jong (‘Sweethearts’). She is attractive, sensual, has long blond hair and wraps almost all men around her finger. But is she really the woman she radiates to be? Verstappen also shows you a piece of Dutch tinkeriness that regularly returns in Dutch productions. Jongewaard (‘The Bosom Friend’), with his small, stocky stature and shrill voice, is a good example of this. When he and his comrades want to apprehend a traitor and want to put him on trial, Jongewaard lets go of his mustache: a scene that is as jolly as it is clumsy. Also note the gigantic glasses of Van der Vlugt, who at the beginning of the film gets entangled in the web of femme fatale De Jong.

The most beautiful scenes probably take place in a remote place, where teacher De Groot goes to ask three gentlemen for advice. De Groot tells the trio of his plans to kill a traitor and the middle-aged gentlemen – Flink, Van der Made and Jongewaard – thoroughly agree with him. What follows is an equally fascinating and painful tale of treason, forgiveness and an example of self-interest. The difference between resistance and occupier is fading: the underground charges people without justice and takes the law into their own hands. ‘Pastorale’ is an attractive film with substance, surprising twists and a fun, exciting story.

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