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THE KNIFE

Netherlands, 1960 (MIFF 1962)

Director: J. M. Landré

This is the third feature film by the Dutch director Fons Rademakers, whose Village By The River was shown at the 1961 Melbourne Film Festival. Told entirely from a child's viewpoint, the theme of the story is a phase in the inner development of the sensitive thirteen-year-old Thomas, a fatherless child. His mother is infatuated with his tutor, Oscar, and the discovery of the depths of her de¬based relationship forms the climax of the work. The shock of experience is too strong and Thomas runs away, only to be caught and dragged back by the village postman. Rage enmeshes him to an extent that he attacks his mother with 'the Knife." Ultimately, however, he comes to accept and have compassion for her predicament.

The director is reputed to be an admirer of Ingmar Bergman and some influence is perhaps discernible in the sexual symbolism and the choice of subject — although Les Quatre Cents Coups would seem to be a predecessor to which the film owes a great deal. Freud's influence is also explicit in the dream se¬quence — all galloping horses, guns, and father figures. But, for a work with so much symbolism, it has great spontaneity, partly due to Reitze van der Linden as the boy, who understands clearly enough that it is not his business to charm.

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