Original Research

De wondere wereld van Alex van Warmerdam: absurdisme in de eigentijdse Nederlandse film

L. Nas
Literator | Vol 20, No 1 | a445 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v20i1.445 | © 1999 L. Nas | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 1999 | Published: 26 April 1999

About the author(s)

L. Nas, Departement Engels, Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland, Bellville, South Africa

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The wondrous world of Alex van Warmerdam: Absurdism in contemporary Dutcti cinema
The main focus of this article is an introduction to the oeuvre of Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam, by concentrating on his first two feature films: Abel (1986) and De noorderlingen (1992). These films, setting a new absurdist trend, signalled the coming-of-age of Dutch cinema. In an article that appeared in 1986 in the then trend-setting cultural magazine De Haagse Post, Van Warmerdam's first film was hailed as “grotesque fool's wisdom,” elevated “to the level of supreme law” whereby “pathetic jerkiness was staged in a revealing manner” (Rooduijn, 1986: 35). Dutch audiences proved receptive to this new cinematic style and became appreciative of the filmmaker's demythologization of the snugness of the “good old days” which had up to then characterized the post-war reconstruction period.

After situating both Abel and De noorderlingen within the context of contemporary Dutch cinema and television, as well as within the filmmaker’s cinematic oeuvre, the article will introduce Alex van Warmerdam's background and closely analyse both films. Finally it will be argued that Van Warmerdam's films force Dutch audiences to take an ironic, critical look at themselves, a new take in Dutch cinema that has also found approval abroad.


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