Merckx, a double national idol
by Aurore Engelen
28/03/2012 - A father and son reunited by the cyclist Eddy Merckx. Haven’t you heard this pitch before? Like France’s War of the Buttons (La Guerre des Boutons), Belgium is having its very own war of the Merckx. It’s a peaceful war (In Belgium, paradoxes aplenty!) in which the Belgian public has seen no less than two family comedies about cycling legend Eddy Merckx be released no more than a week apart. Yet while Torpedo [trailer], a first film by Matthieu Donck released last week and Allez Eddy (lit. “Go Eddy”) (photo), also a first film by Gert Embrechts, both appeal to the same sense of national pride, their films have very different target audiences, as one has been distributed essentially in Wallonia and the other in Flanders.
Out just a few days before the Easter holidays, Allez Eddy is set to be a popular success. It is set in the 1970s, making it a “pure delight of Belgianness” (as the magazine Moustique put it), and its poetic realism mixed with a hint of childhood, in a pretty little Flemish village where an evil supermarket has come to open, should successfully activate the nostalgia button in a country finding it hard to relate to its present. A first cinema production for Jacqueline De Goeij (Cri de Coeur), the film has been released in 28 cinemas by Kinepolis, who are also releasing Plop wordt Kabouterkoning, the eighth installment in the famous pixie’s adventures, in 31 cinemas in time for the holidays.
And then there is the more low-key release of a more bitter and dense film, a sort of western thwarted by a farm’s struggle to survive, in Last Winter [trailer], featuring both the breathtaking Aubrac landscape and an intense and majestuous performance by Vincent Rottiers. A first film by Belgo-American director John Shank, Last Winter is produced by Tarantula, in co-production with Silex Films and PCT Productions, with the support of the CCA, the VAF, Tax Shelter and the CNC.
(Translated from French)