Directed by: Martie Dekkers, Ed van Otterdijk | 38 minutes | drama, short film | Actors: Aart Staartjes, Frank Lammers, Carice van Houten, Gaite Jansen
It is well known that film can provide not only entertainment but also education. The fact that strictly educational film is a separate genre may also be assumed to be known. But what not everyone knows is that information films are by no means always clumsy productions with third-rate amateur players. For example, the Mutsaersstichting (youth care in Limburg) has had a beautiful film made as illustrative material for the subject “domestic violence”.
“Singing in the dark” gives a picture of a crooked family in just over half an hour. Grandpa (Aart Staartjes), father (Frank Lammers), mother (Carice van Houten) and daughter (Gaite Janssen) sit around the table and respond to each other. Communication is difficult. There is not a single sweet word, only reproaches. In between, background information is provided in short scenes about the relationships between the people. As a little boy, grandpa sat in the closet crying while his father argued hard with his mother. To exclude the verbal abuse he started to sing a song. To sing in the dark.
What is particularly painfully made clear in this film is how domestic violence is passed on from generation to generation (in the film, among other things, beautifully portrayed because actors occasionally take each other’s place). People who themselves come from a family in which violence was commonplace, are unable or difficult to express their true feelings and easily fall back on what they are used to. Shouting and hitting above all. This of course only evokes more aggression and mutual incomprehension. Victims become perpetrators and perpetrators become victims. They are all trapped in a vicious circle.
“Singing in the Dark” is not just an educational video, but a full-fledged film production. The sober appearance with a lot of dark creates an oppressive atmosphere. The strong acting of all involved reinforces the urgency of what is on offer and makes the pain and powerlessness very tangible. The music is here and there on the edge, but just manages to avoid obtrusiveness. The title song “Singing in the dark”, a connecting factor between the scenes, gives a beautiful, serene ending to the drama in the performance of singer Do.