The Netherlands’ second movie at the Festival, Storm Bound, is set at sea. It is based on a Dutch book, The Cabin Boys of Bontekoe, which is extremely popular in that land. As the book was written in the colonial era, it is said to reflect that particular worldview, with the Dutch merchants depicted as superior to the Indonesians they meet on the journey. The 21st century is no longer comfortable with such portrayals hence; the cinematic adaptation receives major editing. Still, some traces of that worldview still made it to the screen. Said book is based on the real life journals of the eponymous Captain, so perhaps it was inevitable that some uncomfortable scenes are present in this adaptation.
Storm Bound tells the story of a group of boys-belligerent Hajo, calm Rolf and simple Padde- who embark on a voyage that will lead them to the cusp of manhood as they encounter jealousy, treachery, death, love and kindness aboard the ill-fated ship.
The film features all the stock characters that have made the sea adventure story what it is: drunken men, benevolent captain, a manic character, mutinous sailors and the death of a beloved character. That is not to say, there are no spontaneous moments, the actors playing the three teenagers are competent especially the simple minded Padde, a sort of younger Seth Rogen character, the seascape is also captured beautifully.
For all the onscreen drama, it was the one in the cinema hall that proves memorable: the moment came when the Dutch crew happens on a land where the dark skinned natives are given mirrors and some other superfluous items in exchange for a chicken and bananas. In a hall consisting of several Caucasians amidst Nigerians, the loud silence and quiet giggles were inescapable.
We all took it in good faith. After all, it is only a film. Or is it?