1940. Frans van Loon loves the sea. He became a lawyer for his wife’s sake. Now they are both unhappily married. Hence, Frans is only too pleased to join the Marine reserve corps, and Nelly to be beguiled (and even kidnapped) by an actor. Beforehand, she has an awful row with Frans, who has been keeping quiet about his perilous job: mine sweeping. While driving through a coastal area evacuated because of the danger of mines, she finds the diary of her husband, whom she thought had been killed in an explosion. The diary opens her eyes … Ludwig Berger, director of romantic comedies (Ich bei Tag und Du bei Nacht, 1932) and musicals (Walzerkrieg, 1933) sensitively describes the hardships facing “seaman’s wives” left alone during the war. He also appeals to them to understand the plight of the men conscripted and employs almost every music genre to this end: classical house music, seamen’s shanties, the can-can (“en travestie”), bawdy dances and military band music. In 1940, the German occupying force banned his film; in 1991, it received awards in three categories for the “best performances in Dutch cinema before the Second World War”.
by Ludwig Berger
with Lilly Bouwmeester, Jan de Hartog, Matthieu van Eysden