Nova Zembla * Reinout Oerlemans (2011)

Dutch pride. This film got a lot of attention. It was the first film shot in 3D (but I saw a 2D version), it is about one of the most famous events of Dutch history, filmed by former soap-star Reinout Oerlemans and a role is played by our national beauty Doutzen Kroes. The story is so famous that you might actually know it. At the end of the 16th century the famous Dutch sailor Willem Bartentsz tried to sail to the far East not alongside Africa but over the North. He was aware of the ice, but based on maps drawn by his financier the bishop Plancius he thought that he could manage. An employer of Plancius, after the trip going by the name Gerrit de Veer (Gerrit the feather, after the feather he wrote with), joins the trip to make a report and make everybody famous. He succeeded, because his book became the first Dutch bestseller and people still read it today. It is a bit ironic though, since it is a report of a failed trip, while at the same time a rivaling ship did make it to China taking the southern route. Barentsz and his crew first landed upon an unknown iceland and later ran into an icy island that they named “Nova Zembla” or “new land”. This Russian island still has that name. Seeing that the land is much bigger than expected, they try to sail around north, but the currents in the water make this impossible. Going south the ship gets overtaken by winter and freezes to pieces. The crew decides to winter on the island by building “het behouden huis” (‘the preserved house’). Of course this was not really a holiday and the film shows how the crew sets sail, winters and row back to the unknown island luckily being picked up by another Dutch ship.
The film opens with the typical elements for Dutch films: bad acting and corniness. Lateron things get better. I must say that the settings are done well and the story comes across good too. People expected to see more action, but what you see most are the hardships of the crew, so the film is perhaps more a drama. It is not an overly good film, but not all that bad either.

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