Minoes (2001, Vincent Bal), the English dubbed version

After we finished watching Minoes, my fiancée turned and asked me if it was a children’s film or if the Dutch just made weird films. While it appears to be assigned to the children’s film genre in festivals, the film won best picture and best actress at the Netherlands Film Festival. Still, I wouldn’t just say it isn’t an odd film. I think it’s my first Dutch film, actually.

While Minoes is good, I did watch it dubbed, so it’s possible I got something or lost something or neither. Again, it’s intended for young audience–lot of mild swearing, actually… those naughty Canadian dubbers–and maybe that level of storytelling depth made dubbing less offensive. Minoes is an enjoyable experience, though probably not for people who don’t like cats (it’s a cat who turns into a young woman). The film doesn’t ask any questions about the transformation, sticking to expected child-level of acceptance. Since the questions are never raised, there’s no expectation of an answer, which might only be nice at the end, but Minoes establishes early there won’t be any questions… It establishes its setting, its conflicts, then sticks with them.

The director, Bal, has a great sense of composition and the film’s rooftop sets are wonderful–both functional and imaginative, while never unrealistic. I’m not sure how the special effects were done, if there were any (the cats mouths appeared to be moving to words, but since it was dubbed, I don’t know for sure), but they were excellent as well. The talking cats fell immediately into the film’s agreement with itself and the audience so there was never an issue. None of the special effects looked CG (but well could have been) and there was no gee whiz factor to the film. All the cats just happened to talk in Minoes.

Since I did see it dubbed, I can’t really can’t say anything about the acting, though the lead, Carice van Houten, seems like she did a good job….

The film seems to agree with Mel Stuart's excellent observation: make a movie for adults and kids will be smart enough to figure it out.



Directed by Vincent Bal; screenplay by Bal, Burny Bos and Tamara Bos, based on the novel by Annie M.G. Schmidt; director of photography, Walther van den Ende; edited by Peter Alderliesten; music by Peter Vermeersch; production designer, Vincent de Pater; produced by Burny Bos; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Carice van Houten (Minoes), Theo Maassen (Tibbe), Sarah Bannier (Bibi), Hans Kesting (Harrie de Haringman), Olga Zuiderhoek (Mevrouw van Dam), Jack Wouterse (Burgermeester van Weezel) and Pierre Bokma (Meneer Ellemeet).

One Comment

  1. Andrea Reyes

    This movie was filmed after a book (Minoes, 1970) from a very famous Dutch writer, Annie MG Schmidt. For the Ducth she is an institution (hence the prize at the Film Festival) specially when it comes to children’s literature. Maybe reading a little bit about her might help you put this film in a different context: http://www.annie-mg.com/huiskamer/about_annie/index.html

    And your gf was right twice, this is a children’s film and the Dutch make weird movies 😛

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