From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Tue Feb 16 13:01:35 2016
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
CAPSULE: This is the epic biopic of the career of Dutch
naval hero Michiel Ruyter who fought against the English
and the French in the second and third Anglo-Dutch wars,
1665 to 1673. It features several exciting cannon
battles between ships. The filmmakers frequently create
spectacular visual effects using CGI like it was meant
to be used. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
[The film is in Dutch, English, and French with subtitles where
they are needed.]
I never much was interested in the French and Indian Wars when they
taught it in school. I suppose I could not identify with the
people fighting or picture the conflict. Then I saw the film THE
LAST OF THE MOHICANS and I was hooked. It always seemed to me that
history should be taught at least in part on the movie screen.
Films should be used to make historical times come alive for
students. The Dutch film ADMIRAL has been made in two versions.
One is for general release and one has less sex and violence for
showing in schools. And I think it will work wonders to involve
students in history. It is, after all, an exciting ride, even if it
does not always get its history correct. As a Hornblower fan I
would rather see two ships from the Age of Sail battling in than
see two superheroes fighting each other. Particularly since along
the way I am learning a little about real history. Not that the
history is necessarily 100% accurate, but one learns the issues and
gets an idea of the times.
ADMIRAL (a.k.a. MICHIEL DE RUYTER) is the story of Dutch Admiral
Michiel de Ruyter's career over what appears to be several months,
but historically was several years. The film begins and within
minutes we are on the shore at Scheveningen watching a battle on
the North Sea. De Ruyter (played by Frank Lammers) proves himself
to be an excellent commander and when Dutch Lieutenant-Admiral
Tromp (Rutger Hauer) is killed, de Ruyter is chosen to replace him.
We then are presented the story of de Ruyter's naval victories.
There is a re-creation of the Four Days' Battle that is explosive
even if it does not give a good summary of the battle. In the real
world the battle ended with the British retreating to the safety of
the Thames and de Ruyter blockading the Thames for fifty-one days
before being forced to retreat. In the ADMIRAL dramatization, de
Ruyter simply returns home after the battle.
The reason the film gives for the wars was that the Dutch had a
republic and the royalty of England did not want that egalitarian
idea to spread. Inside the Netherlands the Orangists and the
Republicans join forces temporarily to defend the Netherlands from
the English, but the monarchist Orangists and the Republicans were
still tearing their own country apart in a political conflict
verging on civil war. Though battle scenes are featured, the film
is as much about political strife in the Netherlands at the time.
De Ruyter is dragged into the internal conflict of the Orangists
who wanted a king and the Republicans who had a more democratic
In the version I saw there is nudity and some torture is depicted.
I assume I saw the general release version. The dialog talks down
a little to the viewers who are intended in large part to be school
students, but it pays the viewer back in thrilling visual images.
The film uses rather obvious CGI, but the complexity and intensity
of battle could be done no other way without a much bigger budget.
The cast of the film is almost entirely Dutch and consists mostly
of what were for me unfamiliar faces. Two exceptions are Rutger
Hauer as Tromp, a Dutch Naval hero, but he is on the screen for
only a short time. The other is Charles Dance, who does sinister
oh-so-well, as fans of GAME OF THRONES can attest. Dance plays
reprobate English king Charles II, though he is much older than the
historical Charles would have been.
People seem to be awed just by the trailer for ADMIRAL (I know I
was) and the film does live up to the trailer. The trailer can be
seen at the address below. Though the trailer gives the impression
that this is predominately an English language production, it is
mostly in Dutch. ADMIRAL will be on VOD and iTunes on February 23
and in theaters March 11. I rate it a high +2 on the -4 to +4
scale or 8/10.