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THE DANCE OF THE HERON

Netherlands, 1966 (MIFF 1967, Programme 37)

Director: Fons Rademakers

This work, made by one of the leading Dutch directors whose films, The Spitting Image and The Knife, have previously been seen at Melbourne Festivals, is an uncompromising study of a thwarted relationship between a neurotic husband and his exuberant, frustrated wife. Thematically, the title invites a comparison between their attitudes and the dancelike courtship of the heron: controlled, erotic and peculiarly grotesque.

The couple have decided to take a brief holiday on an island off the coast of Yugoslavia in a sumptuous, turn-of-the-century villa, but the holiday mood is soon lost and the old battles are resumed. An innocent tourist is encouraged to have an affair with the wife; the husband's mother appears and reveals a disturbing penchant for death games; a band of revellers help further to disrupt the atmosphere. Rademakers has a taste for mystery and symbolism, yet he tells his story with a sense of humour. For instance the prelude is a raucous flashback to the hero's parents in a make-believe romp, and the heroine's relaxation on the rocks of Dubrovnik is in post­card style.

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