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Film / A Curious Conjunction of Coincidences

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Ferdy, Erich and Jacob can not be held accountable
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A Curious Conjunction of Coincidences (original title “Een bizarre samenloop van omstandigheden”) is a short Dutch film. It is a graduation film by the Netherlands Film Academy. Winner of the Aspen Shortsfest Best Comedy award 2012, Audience Favorite Palm Springs Shortfest 2012, and the Youth Award Odense Festival 2012.

The film tells about three men from different eras: Ferdy Bloksma (a construction worker working on a new subway tunnel in 2011), Erich Reinhart (a German soldier in World War II) and Jacob van Deyck (a man responsible for transporting wooden pilings to Amsterdam for the construction of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam in 1649). All three of them have a rough day, and make a big mistake because of it. On their own, these misstakes don't immediately have an impact, but combined they eventually lead to the destruction of Amsterdam.

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The whole film (with English subtitles) can be found here.


The film provides examples of:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: both Jacob and his brother-in-law suffer from this, resulting in the latter’s demise.
  • Alliterative Title: The title of the movie.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: the inferior type of wood that Jacob accidentally chooses for the pilings, along with the marshy ground of Amsterdam, lead to a chemical reaction that eventually results in a large gas bubble underneath the whole city center.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Erich’s rough day starts with him receiving one of these from his fiancee.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Erich’s major, who first gives him a verbal tantrum in front of the other soldiers and then forces him to polish the shoes of his entire platoon because he showed up late for the morning roll call.
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  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Jacob has these when he finally meets the piling salesman because he hasn’t slept at all during the journey there.
  • Exhaustion-Induced Idiocy: Despite supposedly being an expert when it comes to pilings, Jacob is so tired from sleep deprevation that he ends up picking the wrong kind of pilings for the Royal Palace.
  • Hair-Trigger Explosive: After failing to go off when Erich dropped it over Amsterdam, and spending several decades underground, the bomb is finally triggered by an empty cola can falling on top of it.
  • The Insomniac: all three men suffer from sleep deprivation, and their errors are a direct result of this. Ferdy has a bad night because of his loud neighbors and as a result rams the wall of the tunnel with his excavator, smashing a hole in the sewer pipe directly behind it. Erich spends a large portion of the night polishing shoes and then immediately has to embark on a mission to England, leading to him falling asleep in the plane and accidentally dropping a bomb. Jacob hardly gets any sleep during his 30-day journey to get pilings because his nephew constantly plays the guitar, and as a result he chooses the wrong type of wood for the pilings.
  • Loud of War: Ferdy’s neighbors have one of their infamous karaoke parties one night, preventing Ferdy from getting any sleep.
    • Less loud but no less annoying is Jacob’s nephews constant singing and guitar play during their journey to fetch pilings.
  • Mean Boss: Ferdy’s boss gives him a severe scolding when Ferdy shows up late for work.
  • Monumental Damage: In the climax, the entire city center of Amsterdam is destroyed, including notable landmarks like the Royal Palace and the World War II monument.
  • Overworked Sleep: Erich falls asleep in the bomber plane because he has been up all night because of his punishment. As a result, he accidentally drops a bomb over Amsterdam.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The entire way from Amsterdam to the pillage storage, Jacob puts up with his nephew's guitar playing, but on the return journey he finally snaps and breaks the instrument.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: “Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten”, a song about Amsterdam by Dutch singer Wim Sonneveld, is played during the end credits.
  • Toothbrush Floor Scrubbing: Well, shoe-polishing actually, but Erich is seen using a toothbrush for the punishment his major gave him.
  • William Telling: Jacob and his brother-in-law, during their Alcohol-Induced Idiocy, decide to re-enact the myth with an axe instead of a bow and arrow. It results in the latter’s demise.
  • World War II: The second act of the film is set during this war.
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