‘The Greatest Actor of the Netherlands’

Het vervloekte geld (L’or qui brule)
R: Alfred Machin. B: Alfred Machin (screenplay). K: Alfred Machin, Paul Sablon. D: Louis Bouwmeester, Germaine Dury, Maurice Mathieu. P: Hollandsche Film/ Pathé Consortium Cinéma. Ne / Fr 1911/12
Print: EYE collection
Dutch titles

“Snuders, an avaricious boat-owner, insures his boat ‘The Joanna’ against accident very much above its value, and then conspires with Verhoff (Louis Bouwmeester), a notorious drunkard and unprincipled scoundrel, to lose it at sea.
The latter agrees to carry out the plan for a consideration of 300 florins, and the bargain is concluded. To lend colour to the affair, Snuders also engages young Tijen as crew, and, despite the entreaties of his sweetheart, Trunski, the latter signs on. Out at sea Tijen discovers a paper which warns him of the villainy which is on foot. But Verhoff acts quickly, and, whilst the young sailor is sleeping in the cabin, the drunkard locks him in, fires the boat, and himself makes good his escape.
Tijen awakes to find the cabin full of thick smoke, which sears his eyes and chokes his breathing. Half unconscious, but in agony, he gropes his way to the door, and at last succeeds in bursting it open, only to be met with a scorching rush of fire, which leaps in upon him. His clothes rapidly ignite, and with screams of agony the wretched boy rushes across the blistering deck to fling himself into the water, where, already half dead, he perishes miserably.
Verhoff, having regained the shore, with difficulty forces Snuders to pay him his reward, and then deliberately sits down to drown in a drunken orgy the horror which he feels rising within him at the awful deed he has committed. But the liquor merely serves to inflame his imagination, and it is not long before phantoms rise before him. He tries to cry out, but cannot; gulp after gulp of spirit does not cool the fire in his brain, and soon the room seems to be full of ghosts, which swell up huge and menacing. Tijen appears, then Trunski; Verhoff thinks they are real; he clutches at them; they vanish; and then they appear again, and Verhoff knows he is going mad. The end soon comes. Like a wild beast he rages round the room, frenzied with sheer terror, alternately praying and blaspheming, blood gathering in his eyes and foam upon his nostrils. And then at last he crashes down upon the floor; it is over; murder has avenged itself.”
eyefilm

Dutch stage and film actor Louis Bouwmeester (1842-1925) is often seen as ‘the greatest actor of the Netherlands’ ever. He was born in Middelharnis in 1842. His parents were the traveling actors Louis Rosenfeldt and Louisa Bouwmeester. (…) Louis started his stage career as a young boy and he would continue to play till he was 82. He made his start in popular melodramas, but in 1880 he was engaged by the prestigious theatre company Het Nederlandsch Tooneel (The Dutch Stage). There he became famous for his passionate and fiery roles in classic tragedies and comedies by William Shakespeare, Molière, Sophocles and Joost van den Vondel. (…)
Between 1909 and 1924 he acted in several more silent films, including the Dutch-French coproduction Het vervloekte Geld/L’or qui brule/Arson at Sea (Alfred Machin, 1911-1912), Koning Oedipus/Oedipus (Leon Boedels, 1912), Fatum (Theo Frenkel, 1915) with Henriëtte Davids , De duivel in Amsterdam/The Devil in Amsterdam (Theo Frenkel, 1918) with Eduard Verkade , and Pro Domo (Theo Frenkel, 1918). In Pro Domo, his sister Theo Mann-Bouwmeester appeared as his wife and their grand-niece Lily Bouwmeester played their daughter. His last film part was as a circus director in Cirque Hollandais/Circus Hollandais (Theo Frenkel, 1924) with a young Johan Heesters in a supporting part. Bouwmeester was already more than 80 years old, when he played this role.”
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