In an anonymous Dutch village, a sturdy, strong-willed matriarch looks back upon her life, the generations of family and friends gathered around her table, and ponders the cyclical nature of time.
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I was so appalled by this film the first time I saw it, that I made myselfwatch the first 42 minutes of it again a few days later before I wouldcommit myself to judging it.I was even more disgusted the second time, and came away convinced that thisfilm accomplishes a kind of tour-de-force in succeeding in being both cuteand extremely mean-spirited at the same time.(MILD SPOILER FOLLOWS) The only likable characters in the film are eithermentally retarded, suicidal, or, at best, weak-willed and submissive to thesmugly arrogant Antonia and her daughter Danielle--two women apparentlyincapable of human love but adept at domination and manipulation. I was sorry when old Crooked Finger finally hanged himself, for he was theonly character I really liked. However, I certainly can't blame him. Lookat whom he had to keep company with!And I got so tired of "Mad Madonna" howling at the moon--an embarrassing, preposterous and utterly unmotivated stereotype--that I wished she wouldfall out of her window.This film patronizes its audience, uses shopworn "cute" tricks till one isheartily sick of them, and does its best to undermine any respect the viewmight have for feminism. If I could have given it a "zero" rating, I would, but I reluctantly votedit a "one."
it is very refreshing to see films from a woman's perspective. in an age ofhollywood cookie-cutter films, we are particularly under-nourished for morewide-ranging perspectives that ring true. my only problem with this film isthat it doesn't show much in the way of internal conflict within whatAntonia sets up as basically a commune or extended family unit. this moviemakes the best kind of political statement, that is, it shares its life andperspective with you rather than beating you over the head. i want to thinkthat life like this is possible. i guess it's more likely in a smallEuropean village of yesterday than in a fair-sized US city of today. butall of us can learn from this movie's message of being true to yourself andbeing kind and open to others, i just don't know if it's as easy as thismovie makes it seem.
ANTONIA'S LINE continues as fresh today as when it was released andawarded Oscars in 1995. This very fine little Dutch film mocks the oldadage of 'You can't go back home again' by introducing Antonia and herdaughter returning to a village she had abandoned and setting upchanges among the odd assortment of townsfolk that initiate a heritageof both wonderful and tragic events, each of which is a parable aboutfamily and community. The women rule here, even to the point ofdeciding to conceive by barter, by compulsion, and by taking armsagainst the macho power symbols of rape. All manner of variations ofnormal (spiritually possessed, moon howlers, disillusioned priests,mentally retarded, social outcasts) come under the influence ofAntonia's strongly world-wise persona. The results are like a fairytale for adults, both in content and in the wonderful visual effects.The cast is extraordinary as is the pacing of the direction. Themessage of this film endures - it pleads to be viewed regularly.Grady Harp
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cutto the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get itat Amazon.)This is an incredibly seductive movie with a strong sense of the spiritof Demeter and Dionysus throughout. There's no Hollywood glamour here.Instead we have an unabashed celebration of life ("This is the onlydance we dance") in which love, community and simple hard work prevail.The simple are seen as the equal of the gifted, and everybody (exceptfor rapists and hypocrites) are appreciated for their strengths andforgiven their faults. Intellectualism is seen as quaint and unsocial(as in the person of Crooked Finger) possibly leading to a morbidcynicism. And brain power (as in the person of the prodigy Therese) isjust another talent, like being able to laugh or to bale hay or to havelots of children.This is the Dionysian view of life that doesn't allow for Apollo, andthere's a lot to be said for it. But I couldn't help but reflect thatduring the time span depicted in this movie--five generations inHolland during the twentieth century--Europe experienced some of themost horrific events known to humankind, two world wars, genocide,concentration camps, poison gas, fire bombings, political repression,and the death of millions of people. But perhaps that is directorMarleen Gorris's point, to see life at its most elemental, locally andwithout the horror of war and the delusions of generals andpoliticians.What's not to like about that? Well, not to rain on anyone's love-fest,but we have vigilante justice here and a murder, seemingly justifiedand certainly agreeable to the audience since the victim was a brutalrapist. Men are not exactly banished, but they are put in their place,serving or (literally) servicing women. What is banished is orthodoxreligiosity in the form of a hypocritical cleric who (with hisdisciples, we are told) goes to town and becomes a social worker (!). This is also an ode to feminism and a deliberate tear-jerker thatmanipulates the emotions of the audience. Yet, somehow Gorris, who alsowrote the script, manages not to offend my sensitivities. I think it isbecause the movie amounts to a very effective sermon against prejudiceof any kind, and because of the gentle humanity of her tale.You'll forgive me, however, if I say that my favorite part was thehandstand! It was just perfect.
For the intelligent and reflective movie-goer, there is much to appreciateabout this film. To begin with, the opening narration, although fantastic,is just about the best opening line to any story out there. It immediatelydraws one into the world of these weird, wonderful people. And thatfantastic aspect is maintained throughout the film, like a fairy tale thatprovides a surprise around every corner. It is a pleasure to be taken intothis kind of world for the 100+ minutes of the film.I strongly disagree with the comments, which the IMDb is currently (as ofMarch 13/04) displaying as being "representative," whichstates:"If you hold dear the innocence of children, respect God and those who serveHim, and hold dear what is beautiful in a spiritual sense, you will probablydislike this film."That's one seriously narrow-minded opinion the IMDb people have selected asbeing representative. There was a time when the IMDb was more discriminatingin what they allowed through to the site. That they allowed *this* postingthrough *and* chose it to represent the average response to the film is bada sign; the ship is sailing but there's nobody at the wheel. Reading thosecomments, one could easily conclude that there are a great deal of sadlyunimaginative people out there who just don't get thisfilm.It isn't surprising that someone with the kind of insular view of the worldas expressed in those "representative" comments wouldn't enjoy this film. Inever thought of it this way, but I suppose "Antonia's Line" is not for thepolite, ultra-conservative, easily-offendable religious folks out there who,it seems, are more apt to feel threatened by fantastic stories like thisthan to appreciate them for what they are. "Antonia's Line" is the kind ofstory that give us permission to *imagine* how things might be if they werejust slightly eschew. This film is not a picture of the real world, but,like a good fairy tale, provides one an opportunity to reflect on a varietyof human conditions and experiences that everyone in some way can relateto.In this regard, "Antonia's Line" is a wonderfully rich and rewarding film,and a beautifully well-told story.It should not be dismissed so easily. (And the IMDb ought to get their acttogether.)
I guess I do feel compelled to offer a contrasting review to the onethat'sbeen posted:If you have a soul, you will love this movie. If you have any love forwomen, you too will fee empowered. If you believe in the stength of theindividual to overcome the emotional distress of life you will findkindredspirits in the characters. It is a very "pagan" film, but unlike a moreinsipid person may believe, it does not refute the power of religion, butextends in the world of the mystic who is invaded by the presence of god,God, the universe, what have you.It's a beautiful film and worth more than one viewing.
Sure, you'll say: you're Dutch. Well, I may be Dutch, but I am not aparticular fan of Dutch movies, as they can be incredibly predictable,and also Dutch male directors/producers/writers seem to think that thebest thing to come out of women's lib is that they can display evenmore titties in a film (think of Paul Verhoeven, a great director,really, but oh so obsessed with the female body and anything randy andhorny...). Very immature, these filmmakers. Dutch actors have thetendency to turn their dialogue into a competition of who can speak thefastest. The music to the films is usually boring as hell (lots ofharmonica's for YEARS and nothing else), and the acting... well. But"Antonia" had me jumping off my chair with pleasant surprise. Went tosee it with two friends in Amsterdam, years ago, in the old Alhambratheater, which has recently been demolished, and of course we,provincials, sat there between a bunch of art adoring Amsterdam folk.Every time we laughed (and try NOT to laugh while watching this film...impossible) people would look at us with angry faces: did we not knowthis was an ART film?? Not surprising this film was NOT a hit in theNetherlands. People are so eager here to be "sophisticated" andHollywood-like, that they cannot even understand a simple, heartwarmingstory like this one anymore. I am a writer myself, but I envy MarleenGorrissen for having written this tale. Wish I could!! It was after thefilm won an Oscar that it was put back in the cinema's and people heardof the film. And this should tell you exactly what is wrong with Dutchcinema: it has no identity of it's own, just like the Dutch themselves.The emptier a film, the more we love it. But when I heard the firstnotes of that glorious music that accompanies this film, I was sold.Also written by a woman, by the way, this music. The acting wasmarvelous; the story so true and real and touching; the photography,scene after scene, was flabbergasting - and, again: the most beautifulmusic!!!!!!!To put it in a few words: I ADORE this film. Must have seen it about 10times, and hope to see it a lot more before my eyes grow old!!Ines
I found Antonia's Line to be a wonderful expression of what isendearing and enduring in the human spirit. It was a truly lovelystory, clever character development, warmly delivered. I can understandhow some may not understand or enjoy this film. It flies in the face ofconvention, but that is its beauty. Some would fear the freedoms thisfilm demonstrates.Love and acceptance abound, in a timeless manor. I like the way itoffered a different definition of family, one where diversity is anasset, guarded by respect.This is one of the greatest stories to come across the screen.
I liked how this film combined interesting, quirky characters with genuineemotion and family interaction - too often "quirky" characters are paradedas the focus of the film, while this one nicely weaves each perfectlypainted, unique character into a beautiful portrait of a very unusualfamily.I don't take this film as social commentary on matriarchy - I just take itas a look at a family which isn't the usual kind. I also don't see the menas mere accessories - they're just not the focus. We're so used to seeingmale-dominated films that any film without that focus seems odd andiconoclastic.A great film - worth watching several times.
Beautiful film, about love, life and death. Located in a village whichmust be somewhere near the Belgian-Dutch border - but it could havebeen anywhere.The seasons and years pass, mentalities change - even inthis small village - and so do people. The women are the strongestcharacters in this film which is also about the Life and Times of oneparticular - and peculiar - woman, Antonia, and her clan. It is funny,it is sad - like life itself. And the photography is just stunning. Isaw this film ten years after it came out. The Dutch critics at thetime were ferocious. This was just feminist trash, nothing 'real' aboutit, etc. I just re-read some of the reviews, were even worse than Iremembered. The critics were amazed - to say the least - when Antoniawent abroad and was highly praised - and won several prizes. In 1996 itwas awarded an Oscar for best non-English language film. Today, as faras I am aware, it is shown in one cinema in The Netherlands - and onlyon one day a week, at a specific time. We were not even a dozen in thistheater to watch the film. What a bloody shame.
The 1995 winner of Best Foreign Language Film tells the story of awoman, her daughter and granddaughter over several years in theNetherlands. The women do everything to show their strength. One of thebest parts is what happens after a hypocrite makes fun of thegranddaughter; I would hate to be in his place! Overall, "Antonia" (called "Antonia's Line" in English) is definitelyone that I recommend. This and "The Assault" are Holland's two suprememasterpieces. In other words, ik reken erop (Dutch for "I count on it")because it is truly iets zoets (Dutch for "something sweet"). Averitable part of De Geschiedenis Des Nederlandsen Films (history ofDutch cinema).
This is the worst movie I have seen all year. Perhaps its most annoyingfeature is the confidence with which it assumes that the viewer is asunfamiliar with ideas as the writer: the idea that time passes andseasonschange is presented as a novelty. The idea that philosophers have thoughtabout the problems of existence evidently startled the film'screators.The film's moral message is cliched to the point of self-parody:villagersare violent and ignorant, outcasts are warm-hearted and always care foroneanother. This reaches its nadir with the inevitable priest, who is ofcourse a hypocrite and a bully; but when he leaves the church he becomescaring and cheerful. At the film's end -- this is a spoiler only in themildest sense -- he becomes a social worker. Hallelujah! He has beensaved!If you are of below-average intelligence and want a film to validate your"nonconformist" lifestyle, this is the film for you.
Perhaps Antonia and her pink house unveiled for us the simplicity ofthe answer of those questions: 'what is life? Why are we here? What'smy path? Where I belong? What's beneath and beyond? Could the wholelearning and knowledge in this world help us to go through this life?And the answer is so simple and so beautiful drew in this impeccablemovie. The answer is not just love, unconditional love, but accepting.Accepting suddenly became the ultimate form of love. The scenes comeone after the other, like paintings, time is flying and you feel itswings, the world dies and reborn with every day, technology takes placeof the old things, churches become empty, people die, children areborn, the fields get green and brown, but above all the table from thegarden will be always full with people, because there, at the pinkhouse, some people discovered that the miracle of life is life itself,is love and is acceptance.
I felt VERY frustrated by this movie. It had so many WONDERFUL elementsbut the overall package was hopelessly baffling because it appeared asif the writers had no idea WHAT type of film they wanted to make. Atfirst, the movie seemed quirky and comical when one of the charactersimagined seeing grandma getting up out of the coffin during her ownfuneral while the statue of Jesus comes to life. I was excited, becauseI like surreal movies like Happiness of Katakuris or Raising Arizona.BUT, just as quickly as these images came, the movie completely changeddirection. This sort of thing happened again and again in the movie--asif the film had eight different writers who combined their storieswithout creating decent segues to join the stories. Comedy, philosophy(not the fun type--the "life is futile and then you die" type), sex,love, lesbianism, anti-church rhetoric, ultra-feminism, child prodigystuff, sexual abuse, murder, etc., etc. all thrown together do not makeONE coherent film but either many separate movies or one big mess. Howthis film got the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture, I am uncertain, as ithad too many holes and left me so unsatisfied. Perhaps it was a slowyear. Or, perhaps AMPAS (the Oscar people) just have contempt fortraditional morality and so they are rewarding this film for its standagainst traditional values. A final note: although these many story elements are perfectlyacceptable for adult fair, this is NOT a film for kids as the subjectmatter is VERY mature. Also, I was deeply disturbed by the familiesportrayed in the film because apparently, NOTHING was private or adultin this extended home. Two examples come to mind: the one scene whereEVERYONE is making love like sex-crazed weasels so loudly that thelittle girl yelled at them to be quiet so she could get to sleep ANDthe scene where this same person (now an adult) is debating whether ornot to have an abortion--while each child in the family tells her theiropinion! This is sick and the family demonstrates a complete lack ofreasonable boundaries. I'm not suggesting adults need to be prudes, butthe idea of putting kids in these situations seems abusive anddisturbing. If these types of situations are thrust on kids, what'snext--showing them step-by-step photos of a prostate exam?
Antonia's line is indeed a true celebration of life. A well craftedfilm.It's a film with excellent narrative and a well-woven script. Likelife, which does not resolve around one problem or one conflict or infact one person, this film too does not hover around a conflict.Conflicts are born and they die. People are born and they die. The filmis not a story of a person but of a village and a family.Like life, which would be incomplete without others (people) in yourlife, even this film would be incomplete without the various charactersin the film and their bond with each other. Marleen Gorris has provedherself as a genius at establishing characters and their relationships.All characters have their own identity and no two characters seemsimilar.Moreover, the film is visually stunning and emotionally gripping. Amust see!
"Antonia's Line" is a beautiful, poignant film which skillfully managesto celebrate life in all its fertile richness while it simultaneouslythrows a richly deserved counter-punch into the face of 2,000 years ofarrogant, church-sponsored misogyny.When a modern film such as this one cleverly turns the tables on realhistorical injustice, I do not find it offensive at all. I'm a man andI found this film admirable for giving a hoot about redressing ajustified, legitimate grievance. Until very recently, women were notregarded as significant beings in their own right; they were deemedvaluable only as helpmates to be utilized and governed by men -significant only to the extent that they were subordinate to a fatherand later a husband, and they were supposed to accept this secondarystatus without complaint, protest or challenge. Such traditionalsubjugation of women is rubbish and this movie plainly says so. That'sa good thing. I see no reason to be offended by such truthfulness.These are not matters of conjecture but of historical fact.This movie features wonderful, strong female characters who are peoplein their own right - they are not compliant appendages of domineeringmale characters. Strong, independent women are found in cinema withextreme rarity, and this film has five of them! There are at leastthree male characters who are good human beings in this film: FarmerBas; Crooked Finger; and Simon; so you can forget the reviews falselycomplaining that all the male characters are creeps. Refreshingly, thismovie also celebrates sexual joy without censorship or hand-wringing.It's even quite amusing, bringing a life-affirming smile to theviewer's face despite some of the violent and somber events which occurin other parts of the film.I found Dennis Littrell's review on this web site to be excellent,because it cites the ancient mythological underpinnings of this film.The soundtrack is beautiful.I suggest paying especially careful attention to the conversationsbetween older and younger female characters, because they contain acomplex interplay of emotion, intelligence, belief and intuition - andso, just when you think you have a character pigeonholed (for example,Antonia is completely atheist), you notice a nuance pointing in anotherdirection. Sarah's final pronouncement in the film also alludes to newpossibilities, if you're listening carefully.A fabulous, unique film, "Antonia's Line" gets my highestrecommendation.
I have to disagree with those who claim that this film is ULTRA feminist.Though Marleen Gorris' feminism is indeed apparent is indisputable. Butpeople who are not necessarily part of the feminist movement will stillappreciate this film. It is a more modern view of the independent woman,but I didn't see the political agenda of Gorris overpowering the film. Itcan be enjoyed as a simple "fairy-tale" (as declared by Gorris herself).The portrayal of women as independent and strong is definitely refreshing,but those who claim this film makes a statement against religion andfamilyaren't necessarily accurate. the film covers these issues, showingwomen'sstrength in dealing with religious hypocrites and single motherhood, but Ipersonally didn't feel the film was encouraging all women to leave thechurch or raise up families independently. It's a marvelous story ofwomen's strengths and vulnerabilities, and the love that the women in onefamily share. ALL people will enjoy this film.
This well-made film is a politically correct fable in support of radicalfeminism.If you believe that a matriarchal culture will solve all our social ills; Ifyou believe that men are only good for utilitarian purposes; If you believethat nothing good can be found in tradition; If you believe that nothinggood can be found in religion, and you want it all neatly presented in apretty basket, tied up with a lacy bow, and decorated with colorfulflowers.....then this movie is for you.
"Antonia's Line" follows the life of a robust, rural Dutchmatron as it explores the village in which she lives, itssometimes eccentric inhabitants, their relationships, andthe trials and triumphs they encounter as the film trudgesand leaps gracefully through four generations. Not for everyone, thisartfullydone, technically okay, well cast and acted, Oscarwinning film is will be most appreciated by mature audiencesand particularly women.
Funny, heart-warming story of a strong woman and her family.This film moved me and made me look at life and value friendsin a whole new way. She is such a good woman. Of coursethisfilm made me cry but it was a good cry. Sometimes it mademecry because it is also very funny. It was one of my favoritemovies of all time .