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Film / Antonia's Line

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Antonia's Line is a 1995 film from The Netherlands. It was written and directed by Marleen Gorris.

Antonia is a thirty-ish woman who was living abroad, but comes back to her old hometown in The Netherlands in the immediate aftermath of World War II. She and her daughter Danielle settle down and work the family farm. Farmer Bas, Antonia's widower neighbor, approaches her with an offer of marriage, which Antonia spurns, but they become friends regardless.

As the years go by in the village Antonia builds a large extended family, including the Bas family as well as "Crooked Finger", the blacksmith who never leaves his house, and Deedee, the mentally challenged sister of Antonia's monstrous neighbor Pitte. Danielle, who is a lesbian, sets out to have a child without getting married. Decades pass, with Antonia becoming a benevolent leader of her harmonious little village.



  • Age Cut:
    • From an 80-ish Antonia in the present day to the Antonia of fifty years ago, a cut facilitated by a truck passing in front of the camera.
    • Later a Match Cut when Therese and Simon are walking in the woods takes them from tweens to 20-year-olds played by a different actor and actress.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: The Narrator of the story is revealed at the end to be Antonia's great-granddaughter Sarah.
  • Art Imitates Art: Danielle is instantly smitten with Therese's new teacher Ms. Anderson, seeing her in the Botticelli "birth of Venus" pose.
  • Asshole Victim: Nobody questions how Pitte found his death because Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Stated baldly by Crooked Finger when having a chat with little Therese.
    "The tragedy of those who believe in God is that their faith rules their intellect. In my experience religion often causes death and destruction."
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  • Birds of a Feather: Lampshaded by the narrator when the Kindhearted Simpletons Loony Lips and Deedee hook up.
    "Birds of a feather flock together."
  • Blackmail: After the priest gives an ugly sermon about Jezebel following Danielle getting knocked up, Farmer Bas decides they'll have to blackmail him. They follow him and catch him in his confessional booth having sex with a young woman. The next sermon finds the priest changing his tune and giving the "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" sermon.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Danielle finds Pitte in the barn raping his sister.
  • Ceiling Banger: The annoyed Protestant does this the first we see the Mad Madonna howling at the moon in her apartment above.
  • Child Prodigy: Danielle's daughter Therese says "I'm a child prodigy," and she is, having been able to do arithmetic since she was three and being able to figure out squares and square roots of four-digit numbers while she's in grade school.
  • Death by Childbirth: Letta's 13th child kills her.
  • Death Montage: In keeping with the circle-of-life theme, a montage towards the end shows how several of the older residents of the town croak.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Antonia wakes up one day, and somehow is aware that it's the day she's going to die. She's perfectly fine with that.
  • Driven to Suicide: Crooked Finger, always the cheerful life of the party, eventually hangs himself when he decides that human existence is too painful to be born. Therese, who hardly ever demonstrates human emotions and is indifferent to her own daughter, is hysterical with grief, which enrages Danielle.
  • The End: "And as this long chronicle reaches its conclusion, nothing has come to an end."
  • Friends with Benefits: Antonia rejects an offer of marriage from Farmer Bas but they wind up having a regular weekly meeting for sex.
  • Ghost Song: An imagined one, anyway, as Danielle visualizes her grandmother getting up out of her coffin and singing at her funeral.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Therese is put before the decision whether to have her baby or abort it. Naturally she decides pro-birth though we later see her care little for her daughter.
  • Hikikomori: Crooked Finger never leaves his house. Eventually he reveals his quite nihilistic view of life and his belief in the meaninglessness of existence.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with an elderly Antonia on the day of her death before skipping back to her arrival in the town in 1945.
  • Intro Dump: Antonia showing her daughter around the town and introducing her, and the audience, to the people of the village.
  • Mr. Imagination:
    • Danielle. For example, she imagines an angel statue hitting the priest with a wing, and imagines her dead grandmother sitting up and singing at her funeral.
    • Sarah, at the end. She has a similar vision the day Antonia dies, seeing family members long dead happily visiting a family picket. Note that only two people in Antonia's line have the visions: the artist (Danielle) and the great-granddaughter (Sarah). The two that don't have any visions are Antonia (a farmer) and her granddaughter (Therese).
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Sarah chucks a man out of her apartment nude after he irritates her.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Antonia decides to deal with the man who raped her granddaughter her own way — so she heads to the local tavern with a shotgun. When she gets there, she decides instead to put a curse on him instead of killing him (which apparently works). Whether you think he got off easy or not it was definitely a badass grandma moment when she has him on his knees terrified.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Several of the people of the village aren't named. There's Loose Lips the mentally challenged farmhand, the Mad Madonna who howls at the moon, the Protestant who lives beneath her, and Crooked Finger the nihilistic blacksmith.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Antonia wins a gold medal. Not only does she agree to Danielle's plan to get pregnant without a husband, she takes her to the city to find a man. And goes with her daughter and said man to the hotel. And waits outside on the lawn while Danielle has sex twice, and succeeds in conceiving.
  • Parental Neglect: Therese, always buried in her math books, proves pretty much completely indifferent to the existence of her daughter. Luckily the rest of Antonia's family is there to give Sarah love and attention.
  • Quirky Town: Check.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Pitte raping Danielle's daughter is his way of getting back at her for messing with him in the barn.
  • Sex Montage: Danielle's falling in love with Ms. Anderson is followed by the narrator saying "and then love burst out all over", followed by a montage of all the couples in the house humping away.
  • Straw Nihilist: Crooked Finger is this, contrasting with Antonia's more optimistic view of existence. When he's told that Therese is pregnant he says "Have you no pity for this child? Wouldn't you rather save it from the misery of life?"


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