De Grote Vakantie

De Grote Vakantie


Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

Mortality hangs over Johan Van Der Keuken's documentary. The film opens with an image of motion slowly coming to rest, followed by narration from the film-maker announcing that his prostate cancer has worsened.

This prompts his odyssey to Nepal where he learns that to understand suffering he must find its root. To Bhutan, sustained by faith in the face of two aggressive neighbours. To Burkina Faso, where life is hard to preserve. To Brazil, the USA and Holland where he sees retrospectives of his own work.

Copy picture

Van Der Keuken tries to narrow the gap between filmmaker and audience. We follow sometimes footstep by footstep in order to see the world as he does, then he raises the camera to give us a view of outstanding beauty.

In some way, this goes towards his ambition that his eyes should still see the world after his own death. But as his travels continue, he realises that his film, its subjects and the audience will pass in time. The film is his "book of the dead".

In dwelling on the incidentals, we do get a sense of walking in Van Der Keuken's footsteps; but it also weakens the film. There is a sense of seeing only the landscape, scratching the surface. The people in the film get little chance to speak - and when they do it is often frustratingly short.

It's perhaps churlish to criticise Van Der Keuken's odyssey as being too personal, for this is his own chronicle and perhaps not possible to share.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
Share this with others on...
Documentary following the director's battle with prostate cancer.

Director: Johan van der Keuken

Writer: Johan Van Der Keuken

Year: 2000

Runtime: 142 minutes

Country: France / Netherlands


EIFF 2000

Search database: