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Film / De Noorderlingen

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De Noorderlingen (translated title "The Northerners") is a 1992 black comedy by Alex van Warmerdam. It is his second film after Abel and this one is generally considered his top achievement in the cinema even though his filmography up to some point is more or less equally respected.

It is set on a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The story is mostly centered on two families and a postman. The first family is that of a forester who is childless because he is sterile. The other family, that of a butcher who wants to make love with his wife who rejects him because he treats her too rough and she does not feel like lovemaking.


  • The '60s: To be exact: 1960-61. The film follows the fight and the downfall of Patrice Lumumba, a politician from Belgian Congo.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: If you believe too ardently. In the end you simply stop eating and starve yourself to death. Of course being a Holywood Atheist is not an option either. Middle is golden
  • Big Eater: Jacob who is a butcher and likes meat on his table too.
    • Subverted by Martha who starts a hunger strike.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Black speaks only French and some African language but cannot speak Dutch. For those who know that African language this trope is the most relevant.
  • Black Comedy: Of darker kind than Abel
  • Bookends: Simon and Peter meet Both in the beginning and in the end by the forest.
  • Blackface: For Thomas twice. The first time is a Foreshadowing that Africa be relevant to this film.
  • Chubby Chaser: Jacob is this to an extent. His wife is not fat but she has some bits. He is fascinated. Alas she never gives in.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The nose of the male "Nose ape" (unexisting in reality.It is said that it lives on Borneo which is actually the habitat of orangs) should remind the viewer of something. Lampshaded by the remark that the nose of the female "Nose ape" looks completely different.
  • Driven to Suicide: That's how Anton ends, he goes to the forest and voluntarily freezes to death.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For the butcher and his son Peter when the latter in the very beginning runs out of the house and speeds away. Jacob cannot catch him.
  • First Love: Agnes for Thomas.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first scene Thomas wears Blackface. Of couse later a real black appears.Plus we are always reported about what happens to Lumumba.
  • Handicapped Badass: Zigzagged but Anton after he is blinded is at times that.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Jacob is probably that. He refuses to visit the mass and is always horny. Later he attempts to prevent the pries from attending his dying wife.
  • Hypocrite: Zigzagged with Jacob who says that he adores his wife but chases other women. Granted, she refuses to have sex with him so he is driven to the extremes.
  • I Have This Friend: Of a more jerkass variety. Simon, having read a letter addressed to Anton, where the latter is notified that he is sterile meets him near the forest and says that in theforest he got to know a rabbit family. Alas,the are not like other rabbits as the husband rabbit is sterile.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Invoked by Jacob to his wife.
  • I'm Not Hungry: Martha to Jacob as she first tries to get thinner then starts to starve herself
  • Improvised Weapon: The black attaches two glasses to a branch. Later he hits Anton once with this weapon and blinds him.
  • Irony: Thomas walks the street disguising the Black by Totem Pole Trench and wearing blackface himself. Anton asks him whether he has seen the black. First the Black is hiding in the trenchoat (while Anton implies that it is Thomas' friend Simon with whom they are joking again.) Also Thomas is obviously black himself.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Simon the postman who is apositive character overall however he still reads the letters he is supposed to deliver. Also he torments Anton, refusing to give him letter in his hands, insisting on pushing in into the letterbox in his house.
  • Jungle Princess: Agnes is a Northern version.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Played with. It is implied that Anton is able to have sex with his wife when she seduces him however he is all down when she dreams of a baby during their sex. He is sterile after all.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Anton is primarily this, later his character takes a much darker turn.
  • Parental Substitute: Simon the postman is something of that for Thomas. Even though that father of Thomas lives with him.
  • Put on a Bus: The black literally escapes the village on a bus.
    • Simon the postman is taken away by the police. He returns in the very end.
    • The first servant in the butchery rides away when Jacob tries to have sex with her. She never returns.
  • Quirky Town: Everything is off with this tiny town. It is this trope rather than Uncanny Village because houses are urban and no-one farms..
  • Right Under Their Noses: The Black in hiding in Jacob's house in one scene sneaks near Jacob as the later exits the bathroom wiping his hair so that his view is closed by the towel.
  • Running Gag: Lost of those in this gloomy dark comedy.
    • One recurrent gag is that the windows are huge and those on the first floor are rather low so people are observed by others throught the windows at the most inconvenient times.
    • People crowding by the window of the dying Martha. When the curtains are drawn so thata they cannot look inside they start knocking at the windowglass.
    • People stepping out of their houses in the row to see what happened in the sole street.
  • Schoolmarm: Its Spear Counterpart in this case. In the sole class as per trope Thomas is the eldest. The rest of the pupils are kids while he is nearing teenagehood.
  • Screaming Woman: The first emplyee of Jacob runs away screaming after he tries to have sex with her.
  • Silence Is Golden: Many scenes play without any conversation.
  • The Speechless: Agnes.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Stealth bye for Agnes when Thomas is going to make love to her in his room but is distracted by the antics of his parents. When he turns back to his bed she is gone, the window open. Played with as when he looks out of the window he sees her running away to the forest unlike most of the times when after this trope the disappearer is not seen.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Lampshaded and parodied with the females villagers.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Exactly how Thomas once saves the Black from Anton. It is a paper-thin disguise, of course however Anton thinks that it is Simon who hides in the trench. Added irony as Anton asks Thomas whether he has seen the black while Thomas at this moment is in Blackface.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Jacob the butcher and his son Thomas.