Dutch Language Blog

Classic Dutch Films: Bert Haanstra Posted by on Dec 11, 2011 in Culture

When I asked my father which Dutch filmmakers I should look into, he immediately thought of Bert Haanstra.  “There are some really good ones,” he said, “with no sound.”  I expressed surprise, and my dad made a joke about cheap Dutchmen.

But I don’t think it was parsimony that motivated Haanstra’s choices, and in most of the work that I’ve found, there is sound being used–there just isn’t much dialogue.  Haanstra made many documentaries and documentary shorts.  I’m posting two for you to check out, here:  one is called Glas (1958), and the other, Zoo (1961).  Both titles are self-explanatory:  Glas shows us glass-blowers inside a Dutch factory; Zoo watches people and animals walk around a zoo.  Or, if you like, a dierentuin.

This is Glas:

It reminds me of the sequences that used to air on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” when I was younger–do you know which ones I mean?  They would take the viewer inside a peanut butter factory, for instance.  Haanstra’s version is, of course, much more sophisticated.  I love the way the glass blowers are made to seem like jazz musicians, inflating their cheeks like trumpeters.

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