The Arty Semite

Friday Film: The Netherlands' Mile High Club

By Ralph Seliger

  • Print
  • Share Share

Courtesy of Music Box Films

Reputed to be the most expensive Dutch-language film ever made, “Bride Flight,” a sensual melodrama with something of a Jewish theme thrown in, debuts commercially in the United States on June 10.

The film recounts the experiences of four Dutch expatriates who meet on a KLM airliner in 1953, wending their way to New Zealand on a flight that wins a trans-continental race with several other airlines. Over the ensuing 50 years, these passengers’ lives continue to intersect in unexpected ways.

Three of them are young brides planning to settle in their new country with proper Dutch husbands. The fourth is Frank, who is immigrating to New Zealand to become a wine maker. The actor who plays him as a young man, Waldemar Torenstra, is physically reminiscent of the 1950s movie icon James Dean, but even better looking (in old age the character is portrayed by Rutger Hauer). As you might imagine, Frank gets romantically entangled with no fewer than two of the women.

It turns out that one of these women, (the one with dark features, of course) is Jewish. Esther, played by Anna Drijver, is her family’s sole survivor of the Holocaust. As a result, she is profoundly conflicted about her Jewish identity.

Given the chance to settle down with a rather colorless Dutch Jew who insists on maintaining a religiously observant and fervently Jewish home, she angrily objects. Instead, she invests her energy in working her way up from a seamstress to become a highly successful designer of women’s clothes. Not even the fact that she becomes pregnant after a brief encounter with Frank deters her from this all-consuming ambition.

Later, Esther tries desperately to maintain a connection with her biological son, whom she had given up to be raised by one of the other women. And it’s through her Jewishness that she attempts, rather pathetically, to reach out to him.

Esther’s story is an important subplot, but the dramatic center of the film is the enduring passion between Frank and Ada, whom he sat next to on the plane, when she was already married to a stern Dutch Calvinist.

Esther is a beauty, albeit hard-boiled. Not surprisingly, the sweet, wide-eyed blond Ada (Karina Smulders) wins our hearts. Both suffer decades of longing and loss, but “Bride Flight” is more of a romantic epic, which ties up loose ends, than a tale of woe.

Watch the trailer for ‘Bride Flight’:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ralph Seliger, Waldemar Torenstra, Rutger Hauer, Ann Drijver, Bride Flight, Film, Karina Smulders

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.