XL Popcorn – Soldier of Orange / Crumb

Two weeks later and this is no longer a wrist problem, but my whole right arm and shoulder. The dictated reviews shall continue on.

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Title: Soldier of Orange (Soldaat van Oranje)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Year: 1977
Country: The Netherlands

35 films in and I have now arrived in the Netherlands. Despite the fact that I have covered a lot of foreign cinema in my signed off from work state this is the first one that hub has picked out. Obviously he goes for something a bit Dutch. Bless him.

Interestingly this is one of the few films I have seen since being signed off from work that was based on something historical. I’ve not seen a lot of major Dutch films but of those I have seen many are based, in part, on the German invasion during world war two. In fact there is a section where the characters right in big letters “May 9” and as a Dutch person you would know that on the following day the German invasion would start. In fact, there were a few things in this film that I had to ask hub to explain in order to better understand. Then there were pieces of knowledge like Germans not being able to pronounce the “sch” sound which have been absorbed due to our seven years together.

Soldier of Orange is a story about how a group of friends from university acted during the German occupation. The main focuses of the film are Rutger Hauer, who is probably the most world renown Dutch cinema actor, and a rather dashing looking Jeroen Krabbé. Both of these men take part in the resistance movement with sponsorship from the UK. The other friends and end up collaborating or doing nothing.

At 2 1/2 hours this film felt overly long by 30 to 40 minutes. You could always tell that the director’s last projects have been television based on how it was paced and the overuse of the main theme music (not as intrusive as High Noon though). It is interesting to note that Soldier of Orange was one of the first films and by Paul Verhoeven who has since went on to direct Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers. Knowing how much he is known to the English speaking world for science fiction it was good to see how he started off his career.

The most interesting thing about this film is how it gives a different perspective from what we normally see in cinema. It startled me just how much left to return to normal for a lot of people once they were occupied by the Nazi forces. I guess it helped that the Dutch, like the British and the Austrians, were seen as comrades in the eyes of Hitler. Another film I’ve seen on the subject (Oorlogswinter) probably better to describe the harsh conditions faced by the Dutch.

Still it was an interesting film to watch and I’ll be back in the world of Dutch film fairly soon.

Title: Crumb
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Year: 1994
Country: USA

Sometimes I just get the urge to watch documentary films. I know that Crumb has no link to Soldier of Orange (in fact I was pretty sure The Man in Grey would be the film to follow so I had a colour theme) but I just had the urge to finally watch this. Also seeing how I am using the 1001 comics list as part of my blog it only seemed right to get to know the author of a number of entries.

To say that Robert Crumb and his brothers are some of the most interesting subjects of a documentary that I have ever seen would be an understatement. As much as I found the family in Queen of Versailles to be compelling they were still fairly one dimensional people. I can’t help but think that Crumb has been totally honest in his interviews when it comes to himself and his family, but a lot about him still remains a fascinating puzzle. He is an incredibly likeable person which would explain why he has had so many women in his life despite very awkward high school years. He is also very much like his brothers and yet he is probably the best adjusted of the three.

There is a line in the original Roger Ebert review where he describes this film has an example of “art as therapy”. There is no doubt in my mind that if Robert Crumb had not found a way to exorcise himself regularly… well he may not have been around today. You look at all of his drawings and comics within the film and marvel at just how autobiographical he has been. One of the women in his life described his art as “pure id”. It seems to be the only time he is able to remove his filter and this prevented him from going down the roads frequented by his brothers. It is just a pity that we never saw his sisters in this documentary (they declined).

There is an incredible duality in Crumb’s work when it comes to women. You have many women on film talking about his art where they see him as creating very powerful and honest examples of womanhood. Many even labelled it as empowering. His current wife, for example, said that his honesty in his drawings helped her to feel less physically inadequate. On the flip side is very sexualised to the point that many women find it disturbing. He openly admits that he has resentment towards women because he was that awkward teenager that no girl would give time to. Obviously, a lot of these feelings are misplaced as it is no man’s god given right to have women on tap. Then again, now that he is a successful comic book artist he is getting attention and he is hyper aware that a lot of this is due to fame.

Crumb is one of those people I would never have heard of it was for neither the 1001 movie nor 1001 comics list. His art style and topics (some of which many would condemn as offensive) are just outside of my general sphere of interest. Now that I have properly seen the man and his artwork I am incredibly interested in taking a look at the back catalogue.

Progress: 506/1007

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