"Sportsman of the Century" reaped a critical savaging on its Dutch release, and closed quickly after it opened there. However, it might merit more than a footnote in film history if only for its audacious (if failed) attempt to wring drama from arguably the most boring sport of the last, or any, century: competitive pole sitting.

Trite Dutch-Teuton-Swedish period co-production “Sportsman of the Century” reaped a critical savaging on its Dutch release, and closed quickly after it opened there. However, it might merit more than a footnote in film history if only for its audacious (if failed) attempt to wring drama from arguably the most boring sport of the last, or any, century: competitive pole sitting. The whole overwrought thing is so ludicrous, the pic may yet become cult viewing on ancillary.

Son-of-toil Taeke Jongsma (Jochum ten Haaf) is incensed by the heartless treatment handed out to his fellow peasants by the local landowners in his Friesian county, circa 1930. Seeing an opportunity to draw attention to this issue, he embarks on an attempt to break the 200-day-plus record for sitting on a pole in a river. Unfortunately, this annoys his g.f. Tjitske (Ricki Koole), who gives up waiting for him and marries — oh, the irony! –landowner Rintje (Bastiaan Ragas). Heartbroken, Taeke goes off to become a Marxist, having had plenty of time on his pole to read “Das Kapital.” Ending is so sentimental, it reaps laffs. Tech credits look pricey, which only ups the kitsch quotient.

Sportsman of the Century

Netherlands-Germany-Sweden

Production

A CV Sportman & PV Pictures presentation of an Omrop Fryslan (Netherlands), Neue Impuls Film, NDR (Germany), Fido Film, Film i Vast (Sweden), in association with Arte production. (International sales: PV Pictures.) Produced by Paul Voorthuysen, Michael Eckelt, Ajay Rechsteiner. Executive producers, Jeanette Wurl, Georg Steinert. Directed, written by Mischa Alexander.

Crew

Camera (color), Bert Pot; editor, Charlotte van der Veen; music, Zbigniew Preisner; production designer, Marije van der Waard; costume designer, Till Fuhrmann. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Another View), July 5, 2007. Dutch dialogue. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Jochum ten Haaf, Ricki Koole, Bastiaan Ragas, Joke Tjalsma.
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