Pieter-Rim de Kroon and Maarten de Kroon are no small boys in the Dutch film world. The pair have already received a Golden Calf for their documentary ‘Hollands Licht’, a special, original and visually stimulating ode to the phenomena of light and perception. In “V.I.S.S.E.N” they take a closer look at a hugely popular hobby in the Netherlands, namely fishing. Almost two million Dutch people sometimes or regularly sit next to the waterfront with fishing rod and bait to catch a carp, pike, bream or other finned fresh or saltwater inhabitant. A hobby that requires a lot of patience, money (good fishing rods and reels are not exactly cheap) and sincere dedication that can sometimes be difficult to understand or even raise eyebrows for non-anglers.
What is immediately striking about “V.I.S.S.E.N” is the broad scope of the documentary. De Kroon succeeds very well in illuminating what seems to be a fairly simple and somewhat one-dimensional subject such as angling from various angles. People of all ages and from various walks of life come into view and have their say, people who mainly look for their entertainment along small ditches or larger ponds, but also anglers who prefer to visit the Dutch coastal waters or large lakes and ponds. In addition to recreational hobby fishermen, who often spend hours along the waterfront purely for relaxation, the film also has an eye for the avid competition fishermen who need the competitive element to turn their hobby into a truly successful pastime. “V.I.S.S.E.N” is above all a light-footed, psychological search for the motivations of the angler, which are very different for each person. Some fish to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, while others like to get their own meal out of the water or are driven primarily by the urge to break their own length records or those of other fishermen. The only similarity that crops up again and again is the genuine enthusiasm that the fishermen exude in front of the camera when they talk about their hobby.
Although “V.I.S.S.E.N” is mainly about the human side of the folk pastime called fishing, there is occasionally also some modest attention for the objects of suffering in this sport, namely the fish themselves. Stylistically, sometimes very beautiful underwater images show, for example, how fish gracefully swim or latch between the bottom vegetation and are then professionally brought in by the angler. The question of whether fish now suffer pain when they get a hook through their lip (the ancient wisdom that fish do not feel pain is largely referred to the trash can by recent scientific research), is unfortunately addressed somewhat too narrowly and not completely satisfactorily. is a small loss.
For fishing viewers, “V.I.S.S.E.N” is undoubtedly a beautiful feast of recognition, while for outsiders it will mainly be a charming, at times beautifully filmed portrait of the wonderful world of angling. But the question remains whether someone who has nothing at all with fishing really remains fascinated in front of the screen for almost an hour and a half while watching this documentary.