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Character (1998)

Pavlik Jansen op de Haar , Jan Decleir , Mike van Diem  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Pavlik Jansen op de Haar, Jan Decleir, Fedja van Huêt, Betty Schuurman, Tamar van den Dop
  • Directors: Mike van Diem
  • Writers: Mike van Diem, Laurens Geels, Ferdinand Bordewijk, Ruud van Megen
  • Producers: Dick Maas, Jerzy Rutowicz, Laurens Geels
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Dutch, English, French, German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007KK52
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,360 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Character" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Dreverhaven is dead. The city's most feared bailiff, the curse of the poor, the agent of law without compassion discovered with a knife through his heart. A self-taught lawyer who just passes his exams was the last person to see Dreverhaven alive. Now, the police want to know why he visited the oldman, and the young barrister is ready to tell the story of a lifetime.Based on the popular classic 1938 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk, this emotional powerhouse of a drama portrays a timeless struggle between father and son a struggle even the father knows the son is destined to win. Beautifully set in Rotterdam of the 1920s, this visually stunning film delivers us deep into the heart of a Dickensian world, austere and cruel yet still touchingly human. Fredja van Huêt and Jan Decleir star in writer/director Mike van Diem's Academy Award(r)-winning feature debut.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Character - a few additions June 6, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
A few remarks and additions to the reviews so far. - The place where the story is situated is near and in the old harbour in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). It was filmed partially on the fifth floor of an old harbour building, with additional scenes in Antwerp (if i recall it correct), in Germany and in Poland. In Rotterdam, i was part of one scene. As a professional calligrapher, i had earlier prepared several properties for the film, and then was asked to be on stage, too. Mike van Diem made a lasting impression, a friendly and capable director indeed. The hours of waiting, the minutes of shooting, resulted in a few seconds of appearance in the final version of the movie - that's obviously the way it goes. In the last half minute, the hand of Jan Decleir (seemingly - it's actually my hand) writes the signature of the testament. It was a small contribution to a masterpiece, which is strongly based on two novels of F. Bordewijk, 'Karakter' and 'Katadreuffe'. Charakter is the kind of movie that is worth to have on video. Be it for the enticing music (Paleis van Boem), be it for the convincing main characters (the divinely beautiful Tamar van den Dop, the talented Fedja van Huet, the majestic Jan Declair), or the intriguing story. Even my critical son of 19 could admit the permeating quality, which is remarkable for someone who mainly grew up with Quentin Tarantino and similar. - Having seen this film several times, the tragedy of the bailiff Dreverhaven appeared in a new light. The ruthless tyrant was deeply unsatisfied with himself, and he who punished so many, beseeched to be punished himself - the natural law of balance. Who else than his own son could be the executor, in the moment of his greatest triumph, when he achieved to be an attorney. That is where this oscar-winning movie ends... and begins.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and Extraordinary December 20, 2004
It's ironic that "Character" won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film the same year that "Titanic" won for Best Picture. "Character" makes "Titanic" look like a grade-school production of "Gilligan's Island." One of the most powerful films I've ever seen, it was painful and difficult to watch, and absolutely brilliant. With not a false note anywhere, the epic scope of the story, the acting and the cinematography drew me in and broke my heart. Not to be missed.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packs a Lot of Dramatic Punch September 4, 2003
CHARACTER is all about tough love. Extremely tough. It is about family. In this instance, an extremely distant pair of parents and a young man seeking his identlty. It's also about great psychological drama, superior period design and unbelievably assured freshman filmmaking from director Mike Van Diem. It's also, as the title implies, about "building character." The father, Dreverhaven, has some unusual character building techniques, to put it mildly. He at one point tells the young man's mother that he will strangle 9/10s of the life out of son Jacob, but the remaining 1/10ths will make him strong. And just for good measure, he may take the last tenth as welll.
Jan Decleir, as Dreverhaven, is a revelation. He's built like Gerard Depardieu and is even more preposessing than that fine actor on screen. He would make a great Javert or Lear in some future production. Victor Löw, as Jacob's mentor and elder friend, De Gankeelar, is unlike anyone you will have seen on screen or stage. With an impossibly jutting jaw and unique mode of speech, he is the ultimate character actor. The entire cast is splendid. I'm not at all familiar with Dutch Cinema, and am not even entirely sure the term isn't an oxymoron. This film, however, can stand beside anything in contemporary cinema. Now I just have to dig up the novel by Ferdinand Borewijk, from which the movie was adapted. It's such a compelling story that I'm sure the novel will be excellent, as well.
Five Stars and counting.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, but illuminating December 3, 2004
Without attempting to recount or even summarize the plot of CHARACTER, let me simply say that it is a stunning work of art. The acting is arresting and utterly convincing. Each character represents heartbreak and tragedy. Even the cold, hard father, Dreverhaven (brilliantly played by Jan Declier) is revealed to have a human side...albeit a terribly flawed and scarred humanity. There is tremendous pathos in the final scenes between Dreverhaven and his son, Katadreuffe (the amazing Fedja van Huet). Even as Katadreuffe explodes in violence and rage, the sorrow and sense of loss is powerfully palpable. Van Diem's direction is flawless. He allows the actors to say so much without using many words. The slow, steady pace allows the plot to simmer before reaching a boil. The longing between Katadreuffe and his lovely co-worker is incredibly heartrending. Katadreuffe's complex relationships with his mother and his mentor are also quite striking. Van Diem gets the most out of very simple gestures...a look, a smile, a touch...perhaps the most dramatic and emotional moment in the film is when Dreverhaven extends his hand to Katadreuffe or when he later whispers, "Help me, Jacob." Reviewers have invoked Kafka, Dickens, Shakespeare, and Oedipus in attempting to describe this film. All of those apply, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that this film belongs in the worthy company of those great stories. (Let me say that the father-son relationship here reminds me in a strange way of a certain famous Johnny Cash song, though I will let you guess which one.) CHARACTER is not a good "popcorn movie," or even really a good "date movie." But it is a great film; the emotions unleashed and the questions raised will stay with the viewer long after the credits have rolled.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars stretch and grow
foreign language movies- boring & tedious! so much work to understand them at all & so slow! what's going on in them anyway? Read more
Published 17 days ago by W. W. Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent movie! Too bad that it is not known by more people
Published 2 months ago by Tom Hopkins
I loved this movie because it is about the extent to which a man goes, to make sure that his offspring is successful in life after he is gone. Read more
Published 9 months ago by HUMMER H 1
2.0 out of 5 stars I got the DVD on time but the case was broken, and because I bought it...
The DVD arrived on time but the plastic case was broken in half and while this would not have bothered me if it were for me, I had intended it as a gift and for that reason I was... Read more
Published 17 months ago by anne adams
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT movie
This is like no other movie you have seen. A young man strives mightily to improve himself, imagining that his successes are all his own, that he is self made, that his parents... Read more
Published 21 months ago by HDB III
5.0 out of 5 stars What's Not To Like About This Film?
The flawed characters give this mysterious movie its brilliant flavor. A silent mother, a cold, unfeeling father and a son trying desperately to win their love and approval. Read more
Published on February 9, 2012 by W. Powell
3.0 out of 5 stars "Slow to Unfold"
A beautifully photographed and detailed period film that is, unfortunately, very slow moving. It really isn't until the final moments that things begin to pick up and the "mystery... Read more
Published on August 8, 2011 by Cary B. Barad
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Character' keeps your interest but its 'characters' remain...
'Character' is a Dutch film which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1998. The film begins as a young man, Jacob Katadreuffe, has been arrested on the suspicion of murdering... Read more
Published on March 14, 2009 by Turfseer
5.0 out of 5 stars Character
I saw this film in the movie house shortly after it first opened, in Chicago, Illinois. The film has haunted me ever since. I have decided to purchase the film at this time. Read more
Published on January 24, 2009 by Patrick W. Stodola
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pyschological Family Feud - tense and thrilling...
Dutch film with English subtitles. Winner of the 1998 Academy Award for best for foreign film. Set in the Netherlands in the depression era of the 1920's. Read more
Published on June 21, 2008 by D. Kanigan
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