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Review De Storm a.k.a. The Storm (2009):

genre: drama, disaster, Dutch




The Storm is a film that features the North Sea flood of 1953 where 1836 people got killed. It is one of the biggest disasters in the history of The Netherlands that lead to the Delta Works projects which were installed and build to prevent such disasters. Naturally I expected a lot from this ambitious undertaking but director Ben Sombogaart went into a completely other direction.

The storm and the flood is not the main focus. It's used as a plot device for several events concerning main character Julia played by Sylvia Hoeks. Maybe something could be said in favour of this decision. I personally was a little disappointed since this film doesn't show us enough of the devastation and how the disaster affected the whole nation. It doesn't help that character Julia is behaving like an idiot for the most time. Sure she might be excused because of shock and trauma and such. But I have the suspicion that the director thought it would make good drama. The Storm does avoid certain trappings of what is usual in disaster films and manages to offer some surprises if you are open for it. The problem is not the story. But how it is told. It is one that seems to push back the flood to the background a little too much with the consequence that the disaster doesn't have the impact it should have. While Julia's tale certainly is tragic it does not come close to the horrors of a big flood. 

I am wondering why the film makers had gone this route? Was it because of not having the budget? Or did they wanted to do something different? But why start such a project if you don't have the finances to produce it? I think the majority of people coming into this film were expecting to see a lot more of the storm and the flood and how it impacted the people and the country. So it can be a very disappointing viewing experience.

However Julia's tale is intriguing and unnerving since if you think about it in hindsight is something that easily could happen. The Storm almost seems like a protest against small religious communities and their intolerance towards people who don't follow their rules. 

It is for this reason that I think that this film still has something to offer. Although you really have to lower your expectations significantly. And for what was present of the natural disaster it was convincing enough. It never looked unrealistic or fake. So technically this is a huge step up for Dutch cinema.   




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