De loteling (1974)

  |  Drama

De loteling (1974) Poster

In 1833, when the fledgling Belgian kingdom still fears a Dutch invasion, recruits were selected annually from an age cohort by a draw of lots in each locality. In this grim, then ... See full summary »


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11 July 2004 | Chip_douglas
Makes Les Mis' look like a comedy
It's 1833 and every young man in an unnamed Belgian village has to enter the lottery draw to see who joins the army (the so called 'blood law'). Belgian's pride Jan DeCleir portrays Jan Braems, one of the lucky ones, until a rich man talks him into taking his place in the army in exchange for money. Jan accepts and thereby makes the first of many disastrous mistakes. In fact, although the army certainly wasn't easy, it is mostly by his own foolish choices that misery befalls him.

Soon he has lost all his money (his only reason to be there) and a fellow soldier introduces Jan to a hooker who is 'just his size' to cheer him up. Of course bad luck Braems immediately gets a terrible disease. Meanwhile back at home his girl Katrien (debutante Ansje Beentjes) asks for comforting words from a pastor and he tells her Jan ‘probably forgot all about her'. She decides to go see for herself but by doing so his bad luck starts to rub off on her, leading to much misery for both of them before the end.

Based on the novel by Hendrik Conscience (his surname explains it all), this is actually the second film version of 'De Loteling'. Makes you wonder how the 1919 version portrayed the more graphic tragedies presented herein. The pace is slow which makes everything look really authentic, with the possible exception of the early seventies haircuts. Still, who is too say the 1973 uncombed hairstyle was not popular 140 years earlier? The use of music by Handl performed mainly on strings and church organs gives an extra dimension to the recreation of those tragic times gone by.

8 out of 10

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Release Date:

28 February 1974



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