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.