Nominated for an Academy AwardŽ (Best Foreign Language Film, 2003), TWIN SISTERS (DE TWEELING) is the emotional and provocative story that tells the tale of two sisters who must come to terms with their fate amid the heat ... more »of World War II. Lotte and Anna become orphans by the age of six. One is sent to live a life of privilege with wealthy relatives in the Netherlands, while the other stays in Germany to face a harsh existence on her uncle?s farm. When they reconnect years later, they not only discover that their lives have taken drastically different paths but, following Germany?s invasion of Holland, they find themselves pitted on opposite sides of the war. Powerful and thought provoking, this award-winning motion picture earned worldwide critical acclaim!« less
A Dutch Bestseller About Separated Twins Turned Into An Osca
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 01/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Trying to catch up on some of the significant international cinema of the last few years, I stumbled across the Dutch epic "Twin Sisters." Based on an enormously popular bestseller, this is a much honored film that represented the Netherlands at the 2004 Academy Awards. While set largely during World War II, and having much to say about the subject, this is first and foremost a study of sisterly love and commitment. For even though the characters are separated through the bulk of the picture, the loss and the bond that these sisters have infuse every scene and every decision that they make.
The film starts with a brilliant setup. When two young girls are left orphans in Germany, they are wanted by two different sets of in-laws. The German in-laws are a poor farming family who need free labor, while the rich in-laws live in the Netherlands and want to bring the girls up properly. A concession is made that pleases neither, but eliminates further debate. Lotte, who has consumption, is given away to the Dutch family who can try to cure her and Anna, the healthy one, is kept on the German farm. It is that random--the course of your whole existence decided in a split second. It's an interesting and thought-provoking topic.
Lotte is cured and leads a life of privilege. Playing the piano, luxuriating on yachts, and finding romance and engagement with a family friend--you can't help but envy her lifestyle. Anna, meanwhile, is kept from school by being declared "retarded," worked, and brutalized on the farm. The two girls lose complete track of one another, their "parents" have each made independent decisions that it is best if they don't communicate. Eventually realizing they are each still alive, they reconnect--but much has changed, including the rise of Nazism. The film looks at Anna's life as a German, she is a maid and supports her country. And the film examines Lotte's life. While still a German, she sees things from the outside--and, in fact, her fiance is Jewish.
The beauty of "Twin Sisters" is that you see these girls evolve as products of their environments. Each has much to be admired, but each makes terrible mistakes. Your allegiance flip-flops back and forth as you inevitably get caught up in their stories. The cast is impeccable. Through different ages, and through a narrative flashback structure, there is a lot of story to be told here. Occasionally, I wished to be able to spend more time in a certain sequence--to really feel its import. But there is no question that the film packs an emotional wallop. I respected "Twin Sisters," it's a serious minded film for people who like adult entertainment. The ultimate moral dilemma is posed, what if things were different? What if the roles had been reversed, would the outcome have been the same? Good stuff. KGHarris, 01/07. "
Fate puts a pair of sisters onto the opposing sides of World
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not too long ago I watched "Out of the Ashes," which was about a Jewish-Hungarian doctor who survived Auschwitz because she was assigned to assist Joseph Mengele in his diabolical experiments on the prisoners. Mengele devoted much of his "research" to the study of twins, with his goal being to discover how Aryan women could give birth to twins, thereby improving the master race and no doubt increasing the number of soldiers who could serve the Third Reich. "De Twilling" ("Twin Sisters") talks about Auschwitz, but never goes there, and while this film is set against World War II and the Holocaust, I would not qualify it as being about the Holocaust. However, I do find it quite ironic that this 2002 film from the Netherlands, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, tells a horror story about twins being separated not by Nazis but rather by their own family.
In 1926 a pair of orphaned twins are separated when their parents die. Young Anna (Nadja Uhl) goes to live on a poor farm in Germany. Her guardians tell everyone that Anna is mentally retarded so that she can stay home from school and do chores and be beaten by her "father" (think Cosette from "Les Miserables"). Meanwhile, little Lotte (Thekla Reuten), who suffers from tuberculosis, is raised by a wealthy Dutch family and learns to play the piano after recovering. The young girls desperately want to write to each other, but such letters are unsent or unreceived, and their only contact appears to be on a psychic level when one of them is in great pain or other emotional distress. However, as they grow older this connection fades away, although there is much more emotional pain to come.
The main narrative thread of "De Twilling" tells the story of Anna and Lotte through 1944, emphasizing the different lives they live. Anna (Sina Richardt) becomes a servant while Lotte (Julia Koopmans) enjoys her privileged life. But the most important distinction comes at the time that the two find each other once again, because Lotte is in love with David (Jeroen Spitzenberger), who is Jewish, and Anna has fallen for Martin (Roman Knizka), who ends up in the S.S. You should be able to see in general terms where this one is going, because as we follow their story in the past we also see old Lotte (Ellen Vogel) and old Anna (Gudrun Okras) in the present, as old women, and clearly Anna does not want to have anything to do with Lotte. Something horrible must have happened to make one twin, who was so desperate to find her long list twin, to turn her back on her sister when they were finally together.
"De Twilling" is directed by Ben Sombogaart ("Mijn vader woont in Rio," "Het Zakmes"), with a script by Marieke van der Pol adapted by Tessa de Loo's best-selling novel. The result is somewhat melodramatic and the film requires the empathy generated by the first section, when the twin sisters are still young and their plight is so heartbreaking, to sustain it through the grim joke that Fate plays on them during the war. Some viewers will find it to be too manipulative, and the ending will either be seen as redemptive or simply the pulling out the final cliché in the deck. World War II is kept in the background, details coming in newspapers or letters, rather than marching troops or exploding shells, which simply underscores that what matters is how Fate has put the sisters on opposite sides. This matters because clearly Fate is the culprit here and if it had been Lotte who had TB instead of Anna we have to believe the results would have been the same, which for this film would be the biggest horror of them all."
Beautiful film... Avoid the Buena Vista DVD... Get the Regio
dooby | 11/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautiful film. Its original title is De Tweeling (The Twins). It traces the contrasting lives of a pair of twin sisters, inseparable when young but forcibly parted at the age of six after the death of their parents. Beginning in 1920s Germany, the orphan girls are taken by distant relatives to live very different lives, one as a poor illiterate farmgirl in rural Germany and the other as a cultured Dutch girl in neighbouring Holland. Prevented by their foster families from communicating with each other, they only meet again in their twenties just before the outbreak of the Second World War. By then Lotte, the twin in Holland has entered University and become engaged to a Jewish man while Anna the sister left behind has become a housemaid and fallen for a Nazi Officer. While both sisters lose their men in the course of the war, Lotte ends up blaming her sister for the death of her fiance who is deported by the Nazis to Buchenwald. There follows decades of enmity with Lotte unable to forgive and Anna at a loss as to how to reconcile with her embittered sister. Told in flashbacks through the eyes of the elderly twins, it is by turns glowingly beautiful, poignant and heart rending. Its core lies towards the end where the two old women reassess their lives and Anna concludes, "we are the product of our circumstance. Put in the same situation, you would have done the same." And as she also says, "I did not love an SS Officer, I loved Martin."
The sisters' plight is in a way a metaphor for the relationship between the Dutch and German peoples. In the film's latter half, with the allied liberation of the Netherlands, Lotte's Dutch family hoist the Dutch tricolor and the ancient strains of the Wilhelmus (Dutch National Anthem) sound in the background. The irony is that in the first stanza of the Wilhelmus, are the lines, "ben ik, van Duitsen bloed, den vaderland getrouwe, blijf ik tot in den dood." (Of German blood am I, Loyal to the fatherland until the day I die). And here we are reminded that these are two peoples, born of the same stock, who through the vagaries of circumstance wind up on opposite sides as bitter enemies. The sisters' story is as much a personal story as a story of their respective homelands.
Three sets of actors play the twins at the three stages of their lives. They all do a wonderful job in a film that is compulsive viewing, moving and believable. This film won a host of awards in the Netherlands and Germany. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2003 but lost out to Canada's The Barbarian Invasions.
Unfortunately Buena Vista/Miramax has issued the truncated American version which was cut by some 17mins. Amazon's website is wrong in stating the runtime as 135mins. That is the length of the uncut movie. The DVD itself is shortened to 118mins. It is a totally barebones DVD. Not even the theatrical trailer is included. However, the picture has been beautifully transferred in its original 1.85:1 widescreen (enhanced for widescreen TV). We are given the original Dutch/German soundtrack in Dolby 5.1 Surround. It comes with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. However this Miramax release is not recommendable. The version to get is the Region 2 Dutch edition on the RCV label. The Dutch edition contains the uncut film with optional English and Dutch subtitles. It also comes with Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes footage, a Making Of documentary as well as the theatrical trailer. However your DVD player must be able to play back Region 2 discs and your system must have native PAL capability. (Dutch video is in PAL format, not the standard American NTSC). The Dutch version is available from Amazon but under its original title, "De Tweeling", not "Twin Sisters"."
A sad time for Europe. And especially for these separated t
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 10/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 2002 Dutch film is based on a novel which sold millions of copies in The Netherlands and Germany. It was probably never released in the United States because the only reviews I found were from Europe or Australia. And all of these reviewers hated this film. That sure was a surprise because I loved it.
The story starts in the late 1920s when two 6-year old Dutch twins are separated after their parents' death and sent to live with distant relatives. Anna is sent to Germany where she is raised as a catholic, denied an education, forced to do backbreaking labor on a farm and beaten severely as a teenager when she is attracted to a young man who plans to be a Nazi. Lotte is raised in an upper middle class Dutch family and given every advantage. The two sisters are forbidden to see each other but do meet again in the late 1930s. By this time Anna is working as a maid for a wealthy German countess who is connected with the Nazi regime and Lotte is college educated and engaged to marry a Jew. Their meeting is brief though and they do not see each other again until after the war.
This is now a sad time for all of Europe. Anna's Austrian husband has been killed on the Russian front. Lotte's Jewish boyfriend has died in a concentration camp and The sisters have a terrible fight, with Lotte accusing Anna of being a Nazi and Anna fleeing in tears from her sister's home.
This is all told in flashbacks as the basic narrative is one of the two elderly women meeting at a European spa in modern times. Lotte is clearly upscale, her white hair arranged in a salon hairdo, her clothes new and fashionable. Anna looks more like a servant who has led a harsh life. She is the one who has tracked her sister down with the hope of reconciliation in their old age.
Yes, this was all melodramatic. But the acting was so good, the screenplay so intriguing and the directing so fast paced, that I was absolutely caught up in the story and couldn't take my eyes from the screen. I also felt real emotion throughout and consider this film a real discovery. So, in spite of the European critics and in spite of the fact that this film might be hard to find, I definitely recommend it."
Twin Views of Altered Lives: A Triumphant Film
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"DE TWEELING (TWIN SISTERS), based on the highly successful novel by Tessa de Loo and adapted brilliantly for the screen by Marieke van der Pol, is assuredly one of the most touching films to date about the strength of family bonds decimated by the horrors of WW II. Director Ben Sombogaart follows Dutch writer de Loo's lead in making this story about the differing fates of twin girls separated at the death of their parents more of a parallel tale than capitalizing on the grim reality of Hitler's influence. The result is a cinematically magnificent, gently hued verismo style of film that succeeds even more in its impact than if it were constantly doused in the dark side of its subject.
Germany 1920. Lotte Bamberg (played by three actresses though a long life - child Julia Koopmans, young woman Thekla Reuten and aged woman Ellen Vogel) and Anna Bamberg (child Sina Richardt, young woman Nadja Uhl and aged woman Gudrun Okras) are inseparable twins at age six, living life to its fullest until suddenly both parents are gone and they are split up: the consumptive Lotte goes to live with her upper class Dutch aunt in Holland and the healthy Anna remains in Germany with her poor uncle on a pig farm. Lotte lives a life of privilege, recovers form tuberculosis, studies German at University and sings Schumann ('Frauen Lieben und Leben' appropriately!) accompanied by her soon to be husband David (Jeroen Spitzenberger) who happens to be Jewish. As the war threatens Hitler's invasion on Holland, David is sent to Auschwitz and brokenhearted Lotte marries David's kind brother and has a child. Meanwhile Anna leads an abused life on the poor and filthy farm, is beaten by her heinous uncle when she begins dating a young handsome Austrian Martin (Roman Knizka) and runs away to work as a maid. Martin believes in Socialism and joins Hitler's army, and is killed.
Throughout the years of separation each twin writes to the other but their guardians for varying reasons never mail the letters. Anna finally finds Lotte and they have a brief time together in Lotte's elegant surroundings. But when Anna observes German dinner guests berating Jews she flees. The two sisters find it difficult to separate the losses of their husbands: Lotte blames Anna's siding with the Nazis as a cause of David's death. Anna defends Martin's role as one of idealism that had nothing to do with the genocide of the Jews. They part, seemingly to never meet again. But as old women bedraggled Anna seeks out the elegant Lotte and the two come to understand their opposite opinions of what the war did to destroy their happiness.
The entire cast is so fine that it is difficult to single any one actor out for distinction: this is truly ensemble acting. Never pushing the story to the edge of saccharine or excess of war violence, director Sombogaart keeps his focus on the dialogue between the sisters central, embroidered with the opposing dichotomies of class and political commitment visceral but understated. The cinematography of Piotr Kukla and the radiant musical score by Fons Merkies are astonishingly effective. This is one of the powerful movies about the Holocaust from an entirely different stance - one that grabs you by the heart and holds on for the 135 minutes of the film...and beyond. In Dutch, German and English with subtitles. Very Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, September 05