ANGELA - LOVE COMES QUIETLY
Holland, 1973, 113 minutes, Colour.
Barbara Hershey, Romain de Conink, Kitty Jannsen, Ralph Meeker.
Directed by Nickolai van der Heyde.
Angela – Love Comes Quietly was directed by Nikolai van der Heyder, director of comparatively few films over a period of thirty years. Immediately after this film, he directed Help, the Doctor is Drowning which had international release and some acclaim.
The setting is northern Holland during the 1920s. An American, Ben (Ralph Meeker) comes back to visit the home of his ancestors. He also begins a relationship with the woman that he had loved when he lived in Holland. However, he brings his daughter Angela (Barbara Hershey) who causes some scandal in the town because of her behaviour. She also begins a relationship with the son of her father’s mistress.
The film recreates the atmosphere of Holland in the 1920s, especially its enclosed nature, the narrow attitudes of the inhabitants of the village – and their vengeful attitudes especially when something contravenes their moral stances. The film actually ends quite pessimistically with the villagers pursuing Angela and Ben, who wanted to escape from the village and the censorious attitudes, and the villagers killing them.
The film is an example of Dutch film-making – although, there is a reliance on the reliable American stars.
1. How enjoyable and entertaining a film? How moving?
2. The qualities of the film as a Dutch production? Dutch technique, photography, music, re-creation of Holland in the twenties? The impact for a Dutch audience, a non-Dutch audience? The plot of the film geared for American viewing? Did this contribute to the overall impact, detract from it?
3. The film's title and its focus on Angela as well as on a theme of love? An appropriate title for the film?
4. Audience interest in and involvement via the structure: the initial fantasy from the imagination of Harm Youter? And the immediate contrast with reality? The immersion of the audience in the way of life of the town: Harm Youter and his parents, the details of life? The intrusion of the Americans and the introduction of Angela? The transition to the journey structure and its episodic nature? The final violence and the return to the fantasy?
5. The appropriateness of the setting of Holland in the twenties? How well did the film re-create the atmosphere - in the inhial fantasy with the emphasis on costumes and manners and style? The contrast with what was heard about America in the twenties? Prohibition, the marriage with the eighty year old and the teenager, the expectations about the Americans? The presentation of life in the town, life along the roads of Holland? An attractive picture, a blend of good and evil?
6. The major focus of the film was on Harm Wouter: how sympathetic a hero for the film? Seeing himself in imagination as a hero, the transition to the reality of his failing? A confused young man, unable to cope, a dreamer? His lying around the house, presence at meals, his ability at music, taunting the staid villagers? The contrast with his friend who wanted to learn to dance and be a medical man? What future would he have? His father's insistence about work? Seeing him around the town for example at Chapel, in the garden, at work with the milkman? The indication of frustration of ambitions on the part of a creative young man? How well was the film geared for audiences to sympathise with the plight of the young man. in contrast with his parents?
7. How sympathetically and unsympathetically were the parents presented? Their appearance, the quality of their marriage? The father and the sequences at work, the attitude of people in his office? His benign attitude towards the members of his staff, factory? His reaction to the news of the failure? His disappointment? His reaction at the party? His pomposity? At meals, in bed? The contract with Louise and her lack of love for him, her headaches and reaction to her son's failure? Her sexual frustration? The comment of the film on this generation?
8. The detailed background of the way of life in the village, the particular people, at the party, at the Inn, the Vicar, church service, the people listening to the musical recital?
9. The intrusion of Ben and Angela into this kind of world? the attitude of the locals to America and American style? The importance of Ben staying at the hotel and his seeking his origins? The humorous irony of the audience first seeing Angela through the eyes of the voyeuristic milkman and his spilling the milk? The Americans seeming to intrude into this world?
10. The character of Ben, his return to his home town, his very American way of looking at things, talking about success? His paying court to Louise? The humorous ironies of the meal and the translations and their inaccuracy? His hold over Angela? The sequence in the bathroom? Her threats and his deciding to stay? Finally seen by Harm Youter embracing Louise? The fact that Ben and the parents were not gone again?
11. How attractive a girl was Angela? Her indication that she thought herself a vamp? Her explanation of her origins and the way that she was brought up? Her travelling with Ben? The revelation of her pregnancy? Her vitality. cheekiness, concern for herself? An attractive character?
12. Her decision to go on the road, the chance encounter with Harm Youter and his deciding to join? The change of pace of the film, focus of attention, themes? The overtones of the dropouts of the sixties and seventies, the critique of the younger generation against the old, the giving up of possessions, the union with the earth, work? How romanticized was their going off together? The scenes of their walking, throwing away their possessions? Motivations and discussion? Their lift and their laughing at the driver? The rain and their taking the milk? Angela’s singing and Harm Wouter wanting to sleep? The work in the drain, the attempted rape? Their continuing on and the spontaneity of their swim? As spoilt by the leering townsfolk? The pregnancy, Angela’s explanation, the visit to the doctor? The hostility of the town? The harshness of what they learnt along the road?
13. The ugly picture of the men of the village and their threats, menace, the visualizing of their arriving to persecute the couple? The violence of their attack? Did they kill the two? Motivation? Purposeless malevolence, the critique of the younger generation, the intolerance of the old?
14. The importance of the fantasies and memories in both their imaginations as they were being killed? The significance of everybody happy in Harm Wouter's imagination? Reconciled with his parents, the townspeople, Angola and the baby fitting into this fantasy? The significance of Ben not being in the fantasy?
15. What was the audience left with at the end? How jolting? The transition from comedy and romance with serious critique questions about marriage to such a violent ending? The parable nature of the film? How convincing?