DVD region 0. Column Film.
was blissfully unaware of the existence of Dick Tuinder’s
film Winterland until this DVD popped through
the post. Intrigued by the unique packaging (imagine that cover
image spread over five sides, with text – in Dutch –
and illustrations), I sat down to watch the film with no idea
about what I would be seeing. But what a revelation it turned
out to be!
The twisting plot centres around the production of a steam punk-like
science fiction film that is channelling Jules Verne, Georges
Melies and Guy Maddin, a green-screen epic called Project
Icarus, where a typically Victorian band of adventurers travel
to the distant planet Proxima Terra, only to fall foul of an infection
that forces them to speak uncomfortable truths before turning
into seven rocks. It’s a strange little tale that would
make a fascinating feature in its own right.
This odd tale is intercut with production scenes – director
Dick Tuinder (playing himself) confuses lead actress Tara Elders
(playing Tara Elders playing Elizabeth Dubois), while hapless
assistant director Reinier (Stijn Westenend) gets into a flap
trying to hold things together. It starts to get odd when Elders
meets Sally Dewinter (Kiriko Mechanicus), an enigmatic child who
carries a suitcase that holds mysteries that no-one can understand,
and is a cartoon character brought to life. Meanwhile, the rest
of the cast take a stroll in the woods where they become lost
in an increasingly surreal world of oddball characters and cartoonish
Subtitled ‘A True Story That Never Happened’,
Winterland is a remarkably lovely film, slipping
almost unnoticed from the reality of the film set into the strangeness
of the world of Sally Dewinter and her Oz-like journey to Winterland.
There’s a strange sweetness about this film, and while nothing
much actually happens, the journey it takes us on is a rather
nice one. This lack of action is, seemingly, the central theme
behind the character of Sally Dewinter, who also turns up in two
short films on this disc, significantly titled The Garden
of Nothing and Most Things Never Happen
– both films expanding the philosophy that the things that
are not there are more important than the things that are. The
two shorts are a nice lead-in to this story, and with Sally, director
Tuinder has created a charming, inquisitive, serious, joyful and
philosophical character that I’d like to see returning in
Also on the disc are a couple of other (unrelated) shorts from
Tuinder and a fascinating (though sadly not subtitled) ‘making-of’
from director Aryan Kaganof.
Winterland is one of the most unique and charming
films I’ve seen in some time. It’s weirdly beautiful
- and beautifully weird.