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Film / Twin Sisters

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Twin Sisters (De Tweeling) is a 2002 film from The Netherlands, directed by Ben Sombogaart.

The story spans some 70 years. In 1926 two six-year-old German fraternal twins, Lotte and Anna, are orphaned when their father dies. Distant relations argue about what to do with them, and in the end, the girls are separated. Anna is claimed by a German farmer couple, and she is treated as little more than a slave, spending years at hard manual labor without ever going to school. Lotte goes to live with Dutch relatives, who are upper-class, and raise her in luxury...but who never send the letters that Lotte writes to her sister.

The girls grow into adulthood. Anna goes into service, while Lotte attends university and falls in love with a young Jewish man named David. In 1939, the sisters are reunited, but they are soon separated again by being on opposite sides of World War II.



  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the source novel, Anna dies without getting the chance to reconcile with Lotte. The film has them meet again and reconcile before Anna dies.
  • Answer Cut: Martin tells Anna that all leave has been cancelled. Anna wonders, "why has all leave been cancelled?" Cut to Lotte and her family listening to Dutch radio on May 10, 1940 announcing the German invasion of the Netherlands.
  • Bait-and-Switch: David has been arrested and taken to a concentration camp. A desperate Lotte writes to Anna, the only German she knows, asking for help. Cut to Anna gasping in shock as she reads a letter—but it's not Lotte's letter, it's from Martin, asking her to marry him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: An elderly Anna tracks Lotte down. She follows Lotte into a park. They have a heart-to-heart talk and reconcile, but in the meantime they get lost in the park. They wind up going to sleep under a tree. Lotte wakes up in the morning and finds that Anna has died.
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  • Catapult Nightmare: 6-year-old Lotte has a catapult nightmare in which she dreams of Anna trying to drown herself in a pond, followed by the two of them under the water together.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Anna's abusive aunt and uncle claim she is mentally handicapped, in order to keep her out of school so she can slave for them all day. 15 years later Anna is nearly forcibly sterilized by the Nazis.
  • Comforting Comforter: Martin the soldier puts his Wehrmacht coat over Anna as they sit together outside.
  • Deadpan Snarker: David has a quick wit. When his brother Brom is asked about his studies, Brom can only stammer. David grins and says "I could listen to him for hours."
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Lotte visits her sister in Germany on the eve of war breaking out. She is startled to hear a bunch of drunk German soldiers singing about the blood of Jews running down their knives.
  • Final Solution: David is arrested in a random sweep in 1942. Eventually he is sent to Auschwitz where he dies. This, and Lotte discovering that her sister married an SS officer, is what causes Lotte to break off contact with Anna for good after the war.
  • Flash Forward: The main narrative is interspersed with flash forwards to an elderly Anna tracking down Lotte, decades after the war, and pleading to reconnect.
  • I Have No Son!
    • Anna says "I have no sister" after Lotte rescinds the invitation to come to Holland. (Lotte has discovered that her sister is an anti-Semite.)
    • More permanently, Lotte bodily pushes Anna out of her home in 1947, screaming "You're not my sister anymore!" (Lotte, who lost David in the Holocaust, has found out that Anna married an SS officer.)
  • I Never Got Any Letters: Partly out of selfish snobbery, and partly out of fear that their German relations might claim Lotte too, Lotte's Dutch adoptive parents never send the letters that Lotte writes to Anna. Lotte is outraged when she finds this out years later.
  • Match Cut: Anna jumps off a bus and into Martin's arms. Cut to the two of them tumbling into bed indoors.
  • Missing Mom: Nothing is ever mentioned of the twins' mother, even when the twins talk about a handkerchief that they know belonged to her. Did she die giving birth to them?
  • Must Not Die a Virgin: Lotte reacts to the news of the German invasion of Holland by taking David to the lake and pulling his clothes off. When he reminds her that they agreed to wait until they were married, she says "We could die tomorrow." He hesitates but eventually she gets her way.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: Ends with the camera panning up to the sky as the EMTs load Anna's body onto a stretcher.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The sisters get split up after their father dies when they are six, leaving them orphaned.
  • Psychic Link: Lotte has a vision of Anna in a scene where Anna is being brutally beaten by her uncle.
  • Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling: Lotte's adoptive family lives in a mansion and she grows up going to university and learning to play piano. Anna's adoptive family are pig farmers who use her as a slave laborer; after leaving home she becomes a maid.
  • Say My Name: The girls scream each other's names, as they're being forcibly separated after their father's funeral.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Two sets of three actresses each portray the sisters as children, young women, and old ladies.
  • Time Skip: 1926 to 1939 to 1940 to 1944 to 1945 to 1947 and, finally, sometime decades later (the novel was published in 1993).
  • Title Drop: The last line has the medics asking Lotte who the dead lady is, with Lotte answering "My sister. My twin sister."
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Anna bids Martin goodbye at the train station, with him leaning out the window to tell her that he's in a signals unit so he should be ok. He isn't.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Anna's uncle Heinrich beats the hell out of her after finding out that she was kissing a young Nazi. Apparently it wasn't an isolated incident as Anna tells Lotte that Heinrich's "beatings" made her infertile.